The Latest Advances in the Knowledge of Ticks and the Diseases They Transmit

A special issue of Pathogens (ISSN 2076-0817). This special issue belongs to the section "Ticks".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2021) | Viewed by 23664

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Animal Health, Veterinary Faculty of UCM, Madrid, Spain
Interests: ticks; tick-borne pathogens; ecology; control
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Parasitology Group, Department Animal Reproduction, INIA, Carretera de la Coruña km 5,9, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: ticks; vector control; Mediterranean ticks; tick-borne diseases

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Ticks have been silent companions in the vertebrate evolution, from the feathered dinosaurs from which the oldest identified tick is supposed to have fed, to current species. The capacity of these seemingly simple organisms for survival under changing and adverse conditions lies in their ability to adapt. Their capability of parasitizing reptiles, birds, and mammals from the most varied climates, habitats, and continents plays a key role in their survival. Few animal groups can maintain their life cycle by feeding on penguins in Antarctica, dromedaries in the Saharan desert, or marine iguanas in the Galapagos Islands. In this context, the global change that is a critical challenge for many species is just another possibility for ticks to overcome by establishing contact with unusual hosts, or modifying their area of distribution. An example of this is what has been observed with Hyalomma in Europe.

The tick’s remarkable capacity to survive has been exploited by multiple agents. From viruses and bacteria to protozoa and nematodes, all have used ticks as a vehicle for transmission. The improvement in diagnostic techniques has been a determining factor for the description of new agents. Moreover, the social, environmental, and economic changes of the last decades have caused outbreaks of tick-borne diseases (TBDs) in animals and humans. In this context, TBDs are priority objectives of interest in the One Health paradigm due to the zoonotic nature of many of these agents. Paired with their epidemiological complexity and the current global changes, a multidisciplinary analysis with a global perspective is required.

This Special Issue aims to collect original research and/or review papers about the latest advances in the knowledge of ticks and the diseases they transmit. The goal is to understand the mechanisms of survival and transmission, to determine risk factors, and to establish, where appropriate, methods of control and prevention.

Dr. Ángeles Sonia Olmeda
Dr. Félix Valcárcel Sancho
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • ticks
  • Hyalomma
  • tick-borne diseases
  • integrated tick control
  • natural products
  • parasitology
  • parasitic diseases
  • animal health

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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14 pages, 1007 KiB  
Article
Seasonality of Coxiella burnetii among Wild Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the Hyalomma lusitanicum (Acari: Ixodidae) in a Meso-Mediterranean Ecosystem
by María Sánchez, Félix Valcárcel, Julia González, Marta G. González, Raquel Martín-Hernández, José M. Tercero, Pablo González-Jara and A. Sonia Olmeda
Pathogens 2022, 11(1), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens11010036 - 29 Dec 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1634
Abstract
(1) Background: Q fever is a worldwide zoonosis caused by Coxiella burnetii that have cases reported in humans and animals almost everywhere. The aim of this study was to describe the seasonality of Coxiella burnetii in the wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Q fever is a worldwide zoonosis caused by Coxiella burnetii that have cases reported in humans and animals almost everywhere. The aim of this study was to describe the seasonality of Coxiella burnetii in the wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the tick Hyalomma lusitanicum in a meso-Mediterranean ecosystem. (2) Methods: two populations of wild rabbits that differ in whether or not they share habitat with ungulates, mainly red deer (Cervus elaphus) were sampled for a year to collect ticks, blood and vaginal or anal swabs. Presence of C. burnetii DNA in swabs and the tick H. lusitanicum was determined by PCR and serum antibodies by ELISA. (3) Results: C. burnetii DNA was detected in 47.2% of 583 rabbits, in 65.5% of sera, and in more than half of the H. lusitanicum. There were small variations according to sex and age of the rabbits but significant according to the habitat (4) Conclusions: The results indicate that C. burnetii circulates freely between wild rabbits and H. lusitanicum and the sylvatic cycle in meso-Mediterranean environments relies in the presence of wild rabbits and H. lusitanicum above all if sharing habitat with red deer. Full article
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18 pages, 995 KiB  
Article
Ticks and Tick-Borne Pathogens Abound in the Cattle Population of the Rabat-Sale Kenitra Region, Morocco
by Latifa Elhachimi, Carolien Rogiers, Stijn Casaert, Siham Fellahi, Thomas Van Leeuwen, Wannes Dermauw, Félix Valcárcel, Ángeles Sonia Olmeda, Sylvie Daminet, Sarah El Hamiani Khatat, Hamid Sahibi and Luc Duchateau
Pathogens 2021, 10(12), 1594; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10121594 - 9 Dec 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3296
Abstract
Tick-borne pathogens cause the majority of diseases in the cattle population in Morocco. In this study, ticks were collected from cattle in the Rabat-Sale-Kenitra region of Morocco and identified morphologically, while tick-borne pathogens were detected in cattle blood samples via polymerase chain reaction [...] Read more.
Tick-borne pathogens cause the majority of diseases in the cattle population in Morocco. In this study, ticks were collected from cattle in the Rabat-Sale-Kenitra region of Morocco and identified morphologically, while tick-borne pathogens were detected in cattle blood samples via polymerase chain reaction assay and sequencing. A total of 3394 adult ixodid ticks were collected from cattle and identified as eight different tick species representing two genera, Hyalomma and Rhipicephalus. The collected ticks consisted of Hyalomma marginatum, Hyalomma anatolicum excavatum, Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato, Rhipicephalus bursa, Hyalomma detritum, Hyalomma lusitanicum, Hyalomma dromedarii, and Hyalomma impeltatum. The overall prevalence of tick-borne pathogens in blood samples was 63.8%, with 29.3% positive for Babesia/Theileria spp., 51.2% for Anaplasma/Ehrlichia spp., and none of the samples positive for Rickettsia spp. Sequencing results revealed the presence of Theileria annulata, Babesia bovis, Anaplasma marginale, Theileria buffeli, Theileria orientalis, Babesia occultans, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Anaplasma capra, Anaplasma platys, Anaplasma bovis, Ehrlichia minasensis, and one isolate of an unknown bovine Anaplasma sp. Crossbreeds, females, older age, and high tick infestation were the most important risk factors for the abundance of tick-borne pathogens, which occurred most frequently in Jorf El Melha, Sidi Yahya Zaer, Ait Ichou, and Arbaoua locations. Full article
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14 pages, 1398 KiB  
Article
Amblyomma aureolatum Genetic Diversity and Population Dynamics Are Not Related to Spotted Fever Epidemiological Scenarios in Brazil
by Karla Bitencourth, Marinete Amorim, Stefan Vilges de Oliveira and Gilberto Salles Gazêta
Pathogens 2021, 10(9), 1146; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10091146 - 6 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2402
Abstract
Regional differences in tick-borne disease epidemiology may be related to biological variations between vector populations. Amblyomma aureolatum (Ixodida: Ixodidae), a neotropical tick, is known from several regions in Brazil. However, only in the metropolitan area of São Paulo (SP) state are there studies [...] Read more.
Regional differences in tick-borne disease epidemiology may be related to biological variations between vector populations. Amblyomma aureolatum (Ixodida: Ixodidae), a neotropical tick, is known from several regions in Brazil. However, only in the metropolitan area of São Paulo (SP) state are there studies that establish its role as a vector of a pathogenic rickettsia (Rickettsia rickettsii). The aim of the study was to analyze the genetic diversity, population dynamics, and rickettsia infection in A. aureolatum populations from different spotted fever scenarios in Brazil. Samples were subjected to DNA extraction, amplification and sequencing of 12S rDNA, cytochrome oxidase subunit II and D-loop mitochondrial markers for tick population analyses, and gltA, htrA, ompA, and ompB genes for rickettsia researches. Of the 7–17 tick haplotypes identified, 5–13 were exclusive to each population and 2–12 for each epidemiological scenario, as well as three haplotypes shared by all populations. Amblyomma aureolatum populations are expanding, and do not appear to be genetically structured vis-a-vis the different epidemiological scenarios studied. Rickettsia bellii (in SP) and Rickettsia felis (in Santa Catarina) were identified as infecting A. aureolatum. No relationship between tick haplotypes and rickettsia types were observed. Full article
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8 pages, 785 KiB  
Article
Detection and Phylogenetic Analysis of a Novel Tick-Borne Virus in Yunnan and Guizhou Provinces, Southwestern China
by Anan Wang, Zheng Pang, Lin Liu, Qianwen Ma, Yize Han, Zhijie Guan, Hao Qin and Guoyu Niu
Pathogens 2021, 10(9), 1143; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10091143 - 5 Sep 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2142
Abstract
Dabieshan tick virus (DTV) is a novel tick-borne virus with the potential to infect both animals and humans. It has been confirmed that DTV is widely distributed in Shandong and Zhejiang Provinces. In this study, a total of 389 ticks were sampled from [...] Read more.
Dabieshan tick virus (DTV) is a novel tick-borne virus with the potential to infect both animals and humans. It has been confirmed that DTV is widely distributed in Shandong and Zhejiang Provinces. In this study, a total of 389 ticks were sampled from Honghe city of Yunnan Province and Bijie city of Guizhou Province, and then divided into 148 pools according to the location and species. QRT-PCR and nested PCR were performed to confirm the presence of DTV. The results showed a minimum infection rate of 2.43% (5/206) in Yunnan Province and 3.28% (6/183) in Guizhou Province, respectively. Interestingly, DTV was identified in Rhipicephalusmicroplus for the first time besides Haemaphysalis longicornis. Phylogenetic analysis showed that DTV from Yunnan and Guizhou Provinces shared over 94% identity with isolates derived from Hubei and Shandong Provinces, and DTV was relatively conservative in evolutionary dynamics. These findings provide molecular evidence of Dabieshan tick virus in different species of ticks from unrecognized endemic regions and suggest that DTV may be widely prevalent in southwestern China. Full article
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10 pages, 838 KiB  
Article
Molecular Detection of Trypanosoma spp. in Questing and Feeding Ticks (Ixodidae) Collected from an Endemic Region of South-West Australia
by Anna-Sheree Krige, R. C. Andrew Thompson, Anke Seidlitz, Sarah Keatley, Julia Wayne and Peta L. Clode
Pathogens 2021, 10(8), 1037; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10081037 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3016
Abstract
A growing number of indigenous trypanosomes have been reported to naturally infect a variety of Australian wildlife with some species of Trypanosoma implicated in the population decline of critically endangered marsupials. However, the mode of transmission of Australian trypanosomes is unknown since their [...] Read more.
A growing number of indigenous trypanosomes have been reported to naturally infect a variety of Australian wildlife with some species of Trypanosoma implicated in the population decline of critically endangered marsupials. However, the mode of transmission of Australian trypanosomes is unknown since their vectors remain unidentified. Here we aimed to fill this current knowledge gap about the occurrence and identity of indigenous trypanosomes in Australian invertebrates by conducting molecular screening for the presence of Trypanosoma spp. in native ticks collected from south-west Australia. A total of 231 ticks (148 collected from vegetation and 83 retrieved directly from 76 marsupial hosts) were screened for Trypanosoma using a High-Resolution Melt (HRM) qPCR assay. An overall Trypanosoma qPCR positivity of 37% (46/125) and 34% (26/76) was detected in questing ticks and host-collected (i.e., feeding) ticks, respectively. Of these, sequencing revealed 28% (35/125) of questing and 28% (21/76) of feeding ticks were infected with one or more of the five species of trypanosome previously reported in this region (T. copemani, T. noyesi, T. vegrandis, T. gilletti, Trypanosoma sp. ANU2). This work has confirmed that Australian ticks are capable of harbouring several species of indigenous trypanosome and likely serve as their vectors. Full article
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11 pages, 1258 KiB  
Article
Shared Odds of Borrelia and Rabies Virus Exposure in Serbia
by Pavle Banović, Adrian Alberto Díaz-Sánchez, Dragana Mijatović, Dragana Vujin, Zsolt Horváth, Nenad Vranješ, Zorana Budakov-Obradović, Nevenka Bujandrić, Jasmina Grujić, Abdul Ghafar, Abdul Jabbar, Verica Simin, Dasiel Obregón and Alejandro Cabezas-Cruz
Pathogens 2021, 10(4), 399; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10040399 - 28 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3826
Abstract
Lyme borreliosis (LB) is the most common tick-borne disease in Serbia and other European countries. Rabies is a fatal zoonosis distributed worldwide and is caused by the rabies virus. Professionals at risk of rabies—including veterinarians, hunters, communal service workers, and forestry workers—overlap with [...] Read more.
Lyme borreliosis (LB) is the most common tick-borne disease in Serbia and other European countries. Rabies is a fatal zoonosis distributed worldwide and is caused by the rabies virus. Professionals at risk of rabies—including veterinarians, hunters, communal service workers, and forestry workers—overlap with some professions at a higher risk of exposure to tick bites and tick-borne pathogen infections. We hypothesized that individuals identified by the public health system as at risk of rabies virus infection, and consequently vaccinated against rabies virus, also share a higher likelihood of Borrelia exposure. To test our hypothesis, a case-control study was carried out during 2019 in Serbia to determine the seroprevalence of anti-Borrelia antibodies in two case groups (individuals at risk and vaccinated against rabies virus) and a control group (individuals without risk of rabies). Individuals vaccinated against rabies following either “pre-exposure protocol” (PrEP, n = 58) or “post-exposure protocol” (PEP, n = 42) were considered as rabies risk groups and healthy blood donors (n = 30) as the control group. The results showed higher Borrelia seroprevalence in PrEP (17.2%; 10/58) and PEP (19.0%; 8/42) groups compared with the control group (6.67%; 2/30). Furthermore, odds ratio (OR) analysis showed that risk of rabies (in either the PrEP (OR = 2.91) or PEP (OR = 3.29) groups) is associated with increased odds of being seropositive to Borrelia. However, the difference in Borrelia seroprevalence between groups was not statistically significant (Chi-square (χ²) test p > 0.05). The shared odds of LB and rabies exposure found in this study suggest that, in countries where both diseases occur, the common citizen can be at risk of both diseases when in a risky habitat. These findings are important to guide physicians in targeting high-risk groups, and diagnose LB, and to guide decision-makers in targeting control and prevention measures for both infections in risk areas. Full article
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Review

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17 pages, 432 KiB  
Review
Acaricidal and Repellent Effects of Essential Oils against Ticks: A Review
by Sidi Mohammed Ammar Selles, Mokhtaria Kouidri, Marta G. González, Julia González, María Sánchez, Azucena González-Coloma, Jaime Sanchis, Latifa Elhachimi, A. Sonia Olmeda, José Maria Tercero and Félix Valcárcel
Pathogens 2021, 10(11), 1379; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10111379 - 26 Oct 2021
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 5986
Abstract
Tick control is a priority in order to prevent the transmission of vector-borne diseases. Industrial chemical acaricides and repellents have been the most efficient tools against hard ticks for a long time. However, the appearance of resistances has meant the declining effectiveness of [...] Read more.
Tick control is a priority in order to prevent the transmission of vector-borne diseases. Industrial chemical acaricides and repellents have been the most efficient tools against hard ticks for a long time. However, the appearance of resistances has meant the declining effectiveness of the chemicals available on the market. The trend today is to develop alternative control methods using natural products to replace nonefficient pesticides and to preserve the efficient ones, hoping to delay resistance development. Traditional in vitro evaluation of acaricidal activity or resistance to synthetic pesticides have been reviewed and they mainly focus on just one species, the one host tick (Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Acari: Ixodidae)). Recent reports have called for the standardization of natural product components, extraction techniques, and experimental design to fully discover their acaricidal potential. This study reviews the main variables used in the bibliography about the efficiency of natural products against ticks, and it proposes a unification of variables relating to ticks, practical development of bioassays, and estimation of ixodicidal activity. Full article
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