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Home » Archive » 2020

TDK conference 2020

Molecular investigation of hard tick and ked infestation of wild boars
Tóth Barnabás - year 5
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Parasitology and Zoology
Supervisor: Dr. Sándor Hornok

Abstract:

Wild boars show increasing numbers and population densities throughout Europe, including Hungary. While their presence is appreciated as game animals, they are also responsible for significant agricultural damage, habitat degradation and water quality issues. In addition, wild boars may harbour ticks and can act as reservoirs of vector-borne pathogens, thus posing a risk of transmission by blood-sucking arthropods towards humans and domestic animals. This latter aspect of their veterinary-medical and epidemiological significance became especially important during the past years, when increasing numbers of wild boars are reported to enter urban areas (gardens, city parks and even streets). Despite of this, reports on the tick infestation of wild boars are scarce in Europe.

For this study, non-host specific blood-sucking ectoparasites, i.e. 333 ixodid ticks and three keds were collected from 51 wild boars at 32 periurban locations in 14 counties of Hungary, during 2005-2008 (older samples) and 2019-2020 (new samples). Five species of ticks were identified: Dermacentor reticulatus (n=165), Ixodes ricinus (n=90) and Haemaphysalis concinna (n=29) in both sample groups, while Ha. inermis (n=29) and D. marginatus (n=20) only among the old samples. The seasonality of these ticks corresponded to their known activities. In addition, two Lipoptena cervi and one Hippobosca equina were also found, the latter for the first time on this host species.

After DNA extraction, ticks were screened for three groups of tick-borne pathogens. All samples were negative for brucellae, recently reported to be carried and transmitted transovarially by D. marginatus. Four D. reticulatus contained Babesia canis DNA, while in one Ha. concinna nymph a zoonotic babesia (recently reported in Slovenia within 100 km of our sampling site) was detected. In addition, Anaplasma phagocytophilum was identified in D. reticulatus (n=1), Ha. concinna (n=3) and in its known vector, I. ricinus (n=15). Phylogenetically, the latter clustered with zoonotic ecotypes.

In conclusion (and taking into account the infection status of wild boars in Hungary) ticks of wild boars do not seem to play a significant role in transmitting brucellae. On the other hand, wild boars might introduce B. canis-carrier D. reticulatus into urban areas, especially because the latter tick species typically does not occur on birds. Most importantly, tick-infested wild boars can contribute to the spread of a zoonotic Babesia sp. and of the zoonotic variant of A. phagocytophilum.



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