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Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2013 Feb;4(1-2):101-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2012.09.004. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

Epidemiology of Ornithodoros brasiliensis (mouro tick) in the southern Brazilian highlands and the description of human and animal retrospective cases of tick parasitism.

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Instituto de Pesquisas Veterinárias Desidério Finamor, Fundação Estadual de Pesquisa Agropecuária, Eldorado do Sul, RS, Brazil.


Ornithodoros brasiliensis, also known as the "mouro" tick, is an argasid tick found exclusively in the southern Brazilian highlands. O. brasiliensis parasitism is frequently associated with severe symptoms directly induced by the tick bite, a condition compatible with the definition of tick toxicosis. The objectives of this work include (i) the determination of the distribution of O. brasiliensis in farms located in the tick-endemic region, (ii) the description of the characteristics of O. brasiliensis habitats, (iii) the analysis of risk factors associated with O. brasiliensis, and (iv) the retrospective description of cases of human and animal parasitism by O. brasiliensis. Of the 30 farms included in this study, O. brasiliensis was identified on 5 farms (frequency 16.7%), in which several ticks found in high density buried in soil were collected. Information regarding the tick habitats and the local population was recorded. The data indicated that O. brasiliensis feeds on humans, dogs, armadillos (Dasypus hybridus), and possibly skunks (Conepatus chinga). The analysis of risk factors indicated that the presence of house basements with an unpaved (natural soil) floor on farms and insufficient sanitary conditions significantly enhanced the probability of identifying O. brasiliensis. Additionally, we describe retrospectively cases of tick parasitism in 28 humans and 11 dogs including the most common symptoms associated with tick toxicosis. This is the first study concerning O. brasiliensis epidemiology, distribution, and habitat, and the report represents the most comprehensive characterization of Ornithodoros bite-associated toxicosis syndrome.

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