Species, developmental stage and infection with microbial pathogens of engorged ticks removed from dogs and questing ticks

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Abstract.Research into tick-borne diseases implies vector sampling and the detection and identification of microbial pathogens. Ticks were collected simultaneously from dogs that had been exposed to tick bites and by flagging the ground in the area in which the dogs had been exposed. In total, 200 ticks were sampled, of which 104 came from dogs and 96 were collected by flagging. These ticks were subsequently examined for DNA of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Rickettsia spp. and Babesia canis. A mixed sample of adult ticks and nymphs of Ixodes ricinus (Ixodida: Ixodidae) and Haemaphysalis concinna (Ixodida: Ixodidae) was obtained by flagging. Female I. ricinus and adult Dermacentor reticulatus (Ixodida: Ixodidae) ticks dominated the engorged ticks removed from dogs. Rickettsia spp. were detected in 17.0% of the examined ticks, A. phagocytophilum in 3.5%, B. canis in 1.5%, and B. burgdorferi s.l. in 16.0%. Ticks with multiple infections were found only among the flagging sample. The ticks removed from the dogs included 22 infected ticks, whereas the flagging sample included 44 infected ticks. The results showed that the method for collecting ticks influences the species composition of the sample and enables the detection of a different pattern of pathogens. Sampling strategies should be taken into consideration when interpreting studies on tick-borne pathogens.

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