Human perception and awareness of ticks in a South Australian rural community and implications for management of Amblyomma triguttatum triguttatum

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Abstract

The ornate kangaroo tick, Amblyomma triguttatum triguttatum, is invasive on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. To assess the potential for developing comprehensive management strategies for the species, we mailed 1,000 surveys to Yorke Peninsula residents to investigate community perceptions of ticks, gather information on tick-host ecology, and assess whether or not occupation and length of residence affected whether residents had seen ticks. The response rate was 32%; most respondents (63%) had not seen ticks on Yorke Peninsula. Of those who had (n = 104), 56% had seen ticks on animals, especially lizards (31%) and kangaroos (20%); 50% had seen ticks on humans. Of the 64 respondents who believed places on Yorke Peninsula had many ticks, 56% identified Innes National Park and 75% areas on southern Yorke Peninsula. The likelihood of seeing ticks was not related to occupation. Whether respondents had seen ticks was related to length of residence on Yorke Peninsula (<10 years = 23.6%, 10–30 years = 44.0%, 31–50 years = 47.6%, 51–70 years = 30.9%, 71+ years = 21.4%). The number of respondents who had seen ticks on humans suggests that tick-borne diseases could become a public health issue on Yorke Peninsula. This finding is of particular concern because A. t. triguttatum is implicated in the epidemiology of Q fever in Queensland. Finally, respondents were unaware of the responsibility for tick management, which demonstrates a need for collaboration amongst stakeholders.

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