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Open AccessArticle

The Unexpected Holiday Souvenir: The Public Health Risk to UK Travellers from Ticks Acquired Overseas

1
Medical Entomology and Zoonoses Ecology, Emergency Response Department, Public Health England, Porton Down, Salisbury SP4 0JG, UK
2
Wildlife Zoonoses and Vector-Borne Research Group, Department of Virology, Animal and Plant Health Agency, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 7957; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17217957
Received: 24 September 2020 / Revised: 23 October 2020 / Accepted: 26 October 2020 / Published: 29 October 2020
Overseas travel to regions where ticks are found can increase travellers’ exposure to ticks and pathogens that may be unfamiliar to medical professionals in their home countries. Previous studies have detailed non-native tick species removed from recently returned travellers, occasionally leading to travel-associated human cases of exotic tick-borne disease. There are 20 species of tick endemic to the UK, yet UK travellers can be exposed to many other non-native species whilst overseas. Here, we report ticks received by Public Health England’s Tick Surveillance Scheme from humans with recent travel history between January 2006 and December 2018. Altogether, 16 tick species were received from people who had recently travelled overseas. Confirmed imports (acquired outside of the UK) were received from people who recently travelled to 22 countries. Possible imports (acquired abroad or within the UK) were received from people who had recently travelled to eight European countries. Species-specific literature reviews highlighted nine of the sixteen tick species are known to vector at least one tick-borne pathogen to humans in the country of acquisition, suggesting travellers exposed to ticks may be at risk of being bitten by a species that is a known vector, with implications for novel tick-borne disease transmission to travellers. View Full-Text
Keywords: tick-borne pathogens; Ixodes ricinus; Amblyomma americanum; Dermacentor; Hyalomma; Rhipicephalus; Ixodes; Amblyomma tick-borne pathogens; Ixodes ricinus; Amblyomma americanum; Dermacentor; Hyalomma; Rhipicephalus; Ixodes; Amblyomma
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Gillingham, E.L.; Cull, B.; Pietzsch, M.E.; Phipps, L.P.; Medlock, J.M.; Hansford, K. The Unexpected Holiday Souvenir: The Public Health Risk to UK Travellers from Ticks Acquired Overseas. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 7957.

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