Send to

Choose Destination
Exp Appl Acarol. 2010 Oct;52(2):183-92. doi: 10.1007/s10493-010-9359-7. Epub 2010 Apr 1.

Potential role of ticks as vectors of bluetongue virus.

Author information

Utrecht Centre for Tick-borne Diseases (UCTD), Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 1, 3584CL Utrecht, The Netherlands.


When the first outbreak of bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV8) was recorded in North-West Europe in August 2006 and renewed outbreaks occurred in the summer of 2007 and again in 2008, the question was raised how the virus survived the winter. Since most adult Culicoides vector midges are assumed not to survive the northern European winter, and transovarial transmission in Culicoides is not recorded, we examined the potential vector role of ixodid and argasid ticks for bluetongue virus. Four species of ixodid ticks (Ixodes ricinus, Ixodes hexagonus, Dermacentor reticulatus and Rhipicephalus bursa) and one soft tick species, Ornithodoros savignyi, ingested BTV8-containing blood either through capillary feeding or by feeding on artificial membranes. The virus was taken up by the ticks and was found to pass through the gut barrier and spread via the haemolymph into the salivary glands, ovaries and testes, as demonstrated by real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (PCR-test). BTV8 was detected in various tissues of ixodid ticks for up to 21 days post feeding and in Ornithodoros ticks for up to 26 days. It was found after moulting in adult Ixodes hexagonus and was also able to pass through the ovaries into the eggs of an Ornithodoros savignyi tick. This study demonstrates that ticks can become infected with bluetongue virus serotype 8. The transstadial passage in hard ticks and transovarial passage in soft ticks suggest that ticks have potential vectorial capacity for bluetongue virus. Further studies are required to investigate transmission from infected ticks to domestic livestock. This route of transmission could provide an additional clue in the unresolved mystery of the epidemiology of Bluetongue in Europe by considering ticks as a potential overwintering mechanism for bluetongue virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center