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Parasite. 2019;26:35. doi: 10.1051/parasite/2019036. Epub 2019 Jun 14.

Absence of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus in the tick Hyalomma aegyptium parasitizing the spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) in Tunisia.

Author information

1
Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Laboratory of Vector Ecology, 13 Place Pasteur, 1002 Tunis, Tunisia.
2
Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Laboratory of Vector Ecology, 13 Place Pasteur, 1002 Tunis, Tunisia - Marwell Wildlife Colden Common, Thompsons Lane, Winchester, SO21 1JH Hampshire, UK.
3
Institut Supérieur des Sciences Biologiques Appliquées de Tunis, Université Tunis El Manar, 9 Avenue Zouhaïer Essafi, 1009 Tunis, Tunisia.
4
Public Health England, Manor Farm Road, Porton Down, Salisbury, SP4 0JG Wiltshire, UK.
5
Marwell Wildlife Colden Common, Thompsons Lane, Winchester, SO21 1JH Hampshire, UK.

Abstract

Free-ranging spur-thighed tortoises Testudo graeca, captured in different habitat types of Northern Tunisia from March to April 2017, were examined for tick infestation: 134/147 (91%) were infested. The overall infestation intensity and abundance was 8.5 and 7.8, respectively. From these tortoises, 1174 ticks were collected, of which 10% (n = 120) taken from 18 randomly-selected tortoises were identified at the species level; the remaining ticks were examined for the presence of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFv) by real time RT-PCR. Only adult Hyalomma aegyptium were found, suggesting a high degree of host specificity to tortoises. No CCHFv was detected in ticks. Considering the absence of CCHFv in Hyalomma aegyptium infesting its main host, the spur-thighed tortoise, this tick species is unlikely to play a major role in the epidemiology of CCHF. Therefore, more studies are needed to investigate the circulation of this arbovirus between livestock and other tick species from North Africa.

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