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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Red and fallow deer determine the density of Ixodes ricinus nymphs containing Anaplasma phagocytophilum

Takumi, Katsuhisa; Hofmeester, Tim R.; Sprong, Hein


BackgroundThe density of Ixodes ricinus nymphs infected with Anaplasma phagocytophilum is one of the parameters that determines the risk for humans and domesticated animals to contract anaplasmosis. For this, I. ricinus larvae need to take a bloodmeal from free-ranging ungulates, which are competent hosts for A. phagocytophilum.MethodsHere, we compared the contribution of four free-ranging ungulate species, red deer (Cervus elaphus), fallow deer (Dama dama), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), and wild boar (Sus scrofa), to A. phagocytophilum infections in nymphs. We used a combination of camera and live trapping to quantify the relative availability of vertebrate hosts to questing ticks in 19 Dutch forest sites. Additionally, we collected questing I. ricinus nymphs and tested these for the presence of A. phagocytophilum. Furthermore, we explored two potential mechanisms that could explain differences between species: (i) differences in larval burden, which we based on data from published studies, and (ii) differences in associations with other, non-competent hosts.ResultsPrincipal component analysis indicated that the density of A. phagocytophilum-infected nymphs (DIN) was higher in forest sites with high availability of red and fallow deer, and to a lesser degree roe deer. Initial results suggest that these differences are not a result of differences in larval burden, but rather differences in associations with other species or other ecological factors.ConclusionsThese results indicate that the risk for contracting anaplasmosis in The Netherlands is likely highest in the few areas where red and fallow deer are present. Future studies are needed to explore the mechanisms behind this association.

Published in

Parasites and Vectors
2021, Volume: 14, number: 1, article number: 59
Publisher: BMC

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

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