The dependence ofHyalomma aegyptiumon its tortoise hostTestudo graecain Algeria

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Abstract

Hyalomma aegyptium (Linnaeus, 1758) (Ixodida: Ixodidae) has recently been confirmed as a carrier of numerous pathogenic, including zoonotic, agents. Four environmentally distinct regions of Algeria, located between the humid coastal zone and the arid Saharan Atlas range, were selected in order to compare differences in tick abundance among localities, and the correlations between tick abundance and host population characteristics and other environmental conditions. Sampling was carried out during May and early June in 2010–2012. A total of 1832 H. aegyptium were removed from 201 tortoises. Adult ticks accounted for 52% of the collection. In the pre-adult stages, larvae were dominant. Data on prevalence, intensity (mean ± standard deviation, range) and abundance of tick infestation were calculated for each locality. Locally, prevalences reached 100%. The sex ratio was biased in favour of males (4.2). Intensities of infestation differed significantly among the localities studied for all developmental stages of the tick. The intensity of infestation by adult ticks was positively correlated to the size of the tortoise and with tortoise population density in the habitat. However, findings for immature tick stages were independent of both variables. No significant correlations between infestation intensities and the climatic parameters tested were found. Immature ticks were observed to prefer the front parts of their tortoise hosts, whereas the majority of adults were attached to the rear parts.

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