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Exp Appl Acarol. 2005;37(3-4):257-68.

Hosts and pathogen detection for immature stages of Ixodes ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae) in North-Central Spain.

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Department of Parasitology, Veterinary Faculty, University of Zaragoza, Miguel Servet, 177, 50013, Zaragoza, Spain.


To determine hosts of the immature stages of a southern population of Ixodes ricinus, we trapped rodents and birds in an area of north-central Spain in May-June and August-September of 1998 and 1999. The most frequently trapped rodents were Apodemus sylvaticus (230 specimens) and Clethrionomys glareolus (99), with a larval infestation prevalence of 49% and 81%, respectively (in spring) and 21% and 41% (in summer). C. glareolus was always more heavily parasitized by larvae (mean numbers 19.8 in spring, 3.4 in summer) than A. sylvaticus (6.1 and 1.2, respectively). No nymphs were collected from the rodents. The larval distribution pattern differed considerably between rodent host species but not according to the season of the year. The most commonly trapped birds were members of the Turdidae, which had infestation incidences of about 70% (larvae) and 10% (nymphs) in spring and 20-15% in summer. We also used molecular methods for the identification of reservoir hosts of the larval ticks and of the pathogens they contained, from nymphs collected in the same site in June of 2002 and 2003. The study showed that most of the ticks had fed on birds and few on rodents and ruminants. Pathogens detected in these ticks included Babesia microti, Borrelia garinii, B. valaisiana and B. afzelii. Borrelia afzelii was detected in a tick that had apparently fed on a wild boar.

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