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Special Issue "Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Infectious Disease Epidemiology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2022 | Viewed by 22443

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Vett Lloyd
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Mount Allison University
Interests: Ticks, mites, host-pathogens interactions, epigenetics; gene expression; vector biology; zoonotic diseases; wildlife; citizen science; Lyme disease
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Natasha Rudenko
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Biology Centre CAS, Institute of Parasitology, Branisovska 31, 37005 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
Interests: Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex; persistent infection; atypical forms; genetic diversity; distribution; Lyme disease
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Zoonotic diseases transmitted by ticks are an increasing global concern, as tick populations increase and establish in new areas. Ticks and the pathogens they vector are globalizing, making tick-vectored diseases an international health concern for humans, companion animals, agricultural animals, and wildlife. The impact of these diseases on health ramifies into a broader social need to address not only the biology of ticks and their pathogens but also the social, economic, and psychological costs of tick vectored diseases on people who have the disease, their families, their health-care providers, and their communities. For this Special Issue, we invite submissions ranging from the biology of ticks and tick microbiomes to the broader societal consequences of tick-vectored diseases such as Lyme disease.

Dr. Vett Lloyd
Dr. Natasha Rudenko
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • tick
  • microbiome
  • zoonotic diseases
  • vector ecology
  • vector–host–pathogen interactions
  • Borrelia
  • Lyme disease
  • community health
  • public health

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Abundance of Ixodes ricinus Ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) and the Diversity of Borrelia Species in Northeastern Poland
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(12), 7378; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19127378 - 16 Jun 2022
Viewed by 343
Abstract
Monitoring the abundance of ticks and the prevalence of pathogens in ticks is an important activity in assessing the risk of tick-borne diseases and helps to develop preventive measures. This study aimed to estimate the density of Ixodes ricinus, the prevalence of [...] Read more.
Monitoring the abundance of ticks and the prevalence of pathogens in ticks is an important activity in assessing the risk of tick-borne diseases and helps to develop preventive measures. This study aimed to estimate the density of Ixodes ricinus, the prevalence of Borrelia species, and their diversity in northeastern Poland. The overall mean I. ricinus density was 9.7 ticks/100 m2. There were no differences between years, subregions, or habitats of study. The Borrelia infection rate was higher in females (22.6%) and males (14.3%) than in nymphs 5.5% (MIR). The most infected ticks came from the eastern subregion (10.1%) where the incidence of borreliosis among the inhabitants was over 20% higher than in the other subregions. In the infected ticks, B. afzelii (38.3%) and B. garinii (34.5%) were predominant. B. bavariensis was confirmed in I. ricinus in Poland for the first time. The most polymorphic was B. garinii. B. miyamotoi (belonged to the European type) was identified as a mono-infection in 0.9% of ticks and in 1.5% as a co-infection with B. afzelii and with B. garinii. Besides the risk of borreliosis and co-infections with different Borrelia species, physicians should also be aware of B. miyamotoi infections among patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
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Article
Knowledge and Knowledge Needs about Lyme Disease among Occupational and Recreational Users of the Outdoors
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(1), 355; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010355 - 05 Jan 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2520
Abstract
As the prevalence of Lyme disease increases across Canada, it is imperative that the educational needs of at-risk groups be identified. The current study compared the level of knowledge and the knowledge needs about Lyme disease among individuals that spend time outdoors for [...] Read more.
As the prevalence of Lyme disease increases across Canada, it is imperative that the educational needs of at-risk groups be identified. The current study compared the level of knowledge and the knowledge needs about Lyme disease among individuals that spend time outdoors for work and for recreational purposes. Between December 2018 and February 2019, a survey was distributed to outdoor organizations across New Brunswick, Canada. Within the current sample of 137 individuals, 36% spent time outdoors for their occupation and 64% for recreational activities. Results showed no significant difference between these groups with regard to their level of knowledge, perceived efficacy and performance of various methods of prevention, and educational needs. Overall, the entire sample reported a low level of knowledge about Lyme disease. Participants perceived each prevention behavior to be at least somewhat effective, and behaviors perceived to be more effective were more likely to be carried out, but the performance of the behaviors varied. The most frequently performed behaviors included wearing long pants and protective footwear. Participants identified several aspects of Lyme disease about which they would like to have more information. The findings call attention to the specific needs of at-risk groups that must be considered when developing educational interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
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Article
Presence of Roe Deer Affects the Occurrence of Anaplasma phagocytophilum Ecotypes in Questing Ixodes ricinus in Different Habitat Types of Central Europe
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4725; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234725 - 27 Nov 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1282
Abstract
The way in which European genetic variants of Anaplasma phagocytophilum circulate in their natural foci and which variants cause disease in humans or livestock remains thus far unclear. Red deer and roe deer are suggested to be reservoirs for some European A. phagocytophilum [...] Read more.
The way in which European genetic variants of Anaplasma phagocytophilum circulate in their natural foci and which variants cause disease in humans or livestock remains thus far unclear. Red deer and roe deer are suggested to be reservoirs for some European A. phagocytophilum strains, and Ixodes ricinus is their principal vector. Based on groEL gene sequences, five A. phagocytophilum ecotypes have been identified. Ecotype I is associated with the broadest host range, including strains that cause disease in domestic animals and humans. Ecotype II is associated with roe deer and does not include zoonotic strains. In the present study, questing I. ricinus were collected in urban, pasture, and natural habitats in the Czech Republic, Germany, and Slovakia. A fragment of the msp2 gene of A. phagocytophilum was amplified by real-time PCR in DNA isolated from ticks. Positive samples were further analyzed by nested PCRs targeting fragments of the 16S rRNA and groEL genes, followed by sequencing. Samples were stratified according to the presence/absence of roe deer at the sampling sites. Geographic origin, habitat, and tick stage were also considered. The probability that A. phagocytophilum is a particular ecotype was estimated by a generalized linear model. Anaplasma phagocytophilum was identified by genetic typing in 274 I. ricinus ticks. The majority belonged to ecotype I (63.9%), 28.5% were ecotype II, and both ecotypes were identified in 7.7% of ticks. Ecotype II was more frequently identified in ticks originating from a site with presence of roe deer, whereas ecotype I was more frequent in adult ticks than in nymphs. Models taking into account the country-specific, site-specific, and habitat-specific aspects did not improve the goodness of the fit. Thus, roe deer presence in a certain site and the tick developmental stage are suggested to be the two factors consistently influencing the occurrence of a particular A. phagocytophilum ecotype in a positive I. ricinus tick. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
Article
Prolongation of Tick-Borne Encephalitis Cycles in Warmer Climatic Conditions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4532; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224532 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1026
Abstract
Tick-borne encephalitis exhibits profound inter-annual fluctuations in incidence. Previous studies showed that three-fifths of the variation can be explained in terms of four superimposed oscillations: a quasi-biennial, triennial, pentennial, and a decadal cycle. This study was conducted to determine how these cycles could [...] Read more.
Tick-borne encephalitis exhibits profound inter-annual fluctuations in incidence. Previous studies showed that three-fifths of the variation can be explained in terms of four superimposed oscillations: a quasi-biennial, triennial, pentennial, and a decadal cycle. This study was conducted to determine how these cycles could be influenced by climate change. Epidemiological data, spanning from the 1970s to the present, and originating from six regions/countries bridging Scandinavia and the Mediterranean, represented a temporal/latitudinal gradient. Spectral analysis of time series was used to determine variation in the cycles’ length/amplitude with respect to these gradients. The analysis showed that—whereas the lengths of the shorter cycles do not vary substantially—cycles in the decadal band tend to be longer southwards. When comparing the disease’s oscillations before- and after the mid-1990s, a shift towards longer oscillations was detected in the pentennial–decadal band, but not in the biennial– triennial band. Simultaneously, oscillations in the latter band increased in intensity whereas the decadal oscillations weakened. In summary, the rhythm of the cycles has been altered by climate change. Lengthened cycles may be explained by prolonged survival of some animal hosts, and consequently greater inertia in herd immunity changes, slowing down a feedback loop between the herd immunity and amount of virus circulating in nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
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Article
Serological and Molecular Investigation of Coxiella burnetii in Small Ruminants and Ticks in Punjab, Pakistan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4271; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214271 - 04 Nov 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1841
Abstract
Coxiellosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetii affecting the productive and reproductive capabilities of animals. This study was conducted to gain insight into the seroprevalence of coxiellosis in small ruminants in seven farms of the Punjab, Pakistan. [...] Read more.
Coxiellosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetii affecting the productive and reproductive capabilities of animals. This study was conducted to gain insight into the seroprevalence of coxiellosis in small ruminants in seven farms of the Punjab, Pakistan. Potential risk factors were assessed. In total, 1000 serum samples (500 from sheep and 500 from goats) and 163 ticks were collected from the ruminants. All these 163 ticks were merged into 55 pools (29 pools for ticks from sheep and 26 pools for ticks from goat). Serum samples were investigated using an indirect ELISA and PCR. Coxiella burnetii DNA was detected in 29 pooled seropositive samples and 11 pooled ticks by real-time qPCR. Serological analysis revealed a prevalence of 15.6% and 15.0% in sheep and goats, respectively. A significant association was found between seropositivity and different variables like district, lactational status, reproductive status, body condition and reproductive disorders. Univariate analysis showed that detection of C. burnetii DNA in tick pools was significantly associated with the presence of ticks on sheep and goats. However, a non-significant association was found for the prevalence of C. burnetii DNA in serum pools. Hence, C. burnetii infection is prevalent in small ruminants and ticks maintained at livestock farms in Punjab, Pakistan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
Article
Single Core Genome Sequencing for Detection of both Borrelia burgdorferi Sensu Lato and Relapsing Fever Borrelia Species
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(10), 1779; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16101779 - 20 May 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4348
Abstract
Lyme disease, initially described as Lyme arthritis, was reported before nucleic-acid based detection technologies were available. The most widely used diagnostic tests for Lyme disease are based on the serologic detection of antibodies produced against antigens derived from a single strain of Borrelia [...] Read more.
Lyme disease, initially described as Lyme arthritis, was reported before nucleic-acid based detection technologies were available. The most widely used diagnostic tests for Lyme disease are based on the serologic detection of antibodies produced against antigens derived from a single strain of Borrelia burgdorferi. The poor diagnostic accuracy of serological tests early in the infection process has been noted most recently in the 2018 Report to Congress issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Tick-Borne Disease Working Group. Clinical Lyme disease may be caused by a diversity of borreliae, including those classified as relapsing fever species, in the United States and in Europe. It is widely accepted that antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease is most successful during this critical early stage of infection. While genomic sequencing is recognized as an irrefutable direct detection method for laboratory diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis, development of a molecular diagnostic tool for all clinical forms of borreliosis is challenging because a “core genome” shared by all pathogenic borreliae has not yet been identified. After a diligent search of the GenBank database, we identified two highly conserved segments of DNA sequence among the borrelial 16S rRNA genes. We further developed a pair of Borrelia genus-specific PCR primers for amplification of a segment of borrelial 16S rRNA gene as a “core genome” to be used as the template for routine Sanger sequencing-based metagenomic direct detection test. This study presented examples of base-calling DNA sequencing electropherograms routinely generated in a clinical diagnostic laboratory on DNA extracts of human blood specimens and ticks collected from human skin bites and from the environment. Since some of the tick samples tested were collected in Ireland, borrelial species or strains not known to exist in the United States were also detected by analysis of this 16S rRNA “core genome”. We recommend that hospital laboratories located in Lyme disease endemic areas begin to use a “core genome” sequencing test to routinely diagnose spirochetemia caused by various species of borreliae for timely management of patients at the early stage of infection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
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Article
A Multiple Streams Approach to Understanding the Issues and Challenges of Lyme Disease Management in Canada’s Maritime Provinces
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(9), 1531; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16091531 - 30 Apr 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1744
Abstract
This study examines potential challenges facing Lyme disease patients in Canada’s Maritime provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island—and considers how issues could be addressed. Reviews of both the academic and grey literature are complemented by surveys targeting both medical professionals and decision [...] Read more.
This study examines potential challenges facing Lyme disease patients in Canada’s Maritime provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island—and considers how issues could be addressed. Reviews of both the academic and grey literature are complemented by surveys targeting both medical professionals and decision makers in government. Combined, the literature reviews and surveys demonstrate that there is considerable debate surrounding the effectiveness of testing, treatment options, and the existence of chronic Lyme disease. As the focus on the Maritimes demonstrates, these debates often pit the medical community against patients and patient advocates and, thus far, governments have been unable to produce policy that entirely pleases either side. Moving forward, this study recommends the creation of a discussion forum via a federal Commission of inquiry to review best practise guidelines for Lyme disease. The key is to foster an unbiased probe of central issues surrounding treatment and diagnosis without alienating stakeholders. This course of action will not necessarily solve the issue of Lyme disease, but would foster a greater understanding through dialogue that includes and validates the experiences of stakeholders, which is something that is currently missing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
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Article
Model of Risk of Exposure to Lyme Borreliosis and Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus-Infected Ticks in the Border Area of the Czech Republic (South Bohemia) and Germany (Lower Bavaria and Upper Palatinate)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(7), 1173; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071173 - 02 Apr 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2212
Abstract
In Europe, Lyme borreliosis (LB) and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) are the two vector-borne diseases with the largest impact on human health. Based on data on the density of host-seeking Ixodes ricinus ticks and pathogen prevalence and using a variety of environmental data, we [...] Read more.
In Europe, Lyme borreliosis (LB) and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) are the two vector-borne diseases with the largest impact on human health. Based on data on the density of host-seeking Ixodes ricinus ticks and pathogen prevalence and using a variety of environmental data, we have created an acarological risk model for a region where both diseases are endemic (Czech Republic—South Bohemia and Germany—Lower Bavaria, Upper Palatinate). The data on tick density were acquired by flagging 50 sampling sites three times in a single season. Prevalence of the causative agents of LB and TBE was determined. Data on environmental variables (e.g., altitude, vegetation cover, NDVI, land surface temperature) were obtained from various sources and processed using geographical information systems. Generalized linear models were used to estimate tick density, probability of tick infection, and density of infected ticks for the whole area. A significantly higher incidence of human TBE cases was recorded in South Bohemia compared to Bavarian regions, which correlated with a lower tick density in Bavaria. However, the differences in pathogen prevalence rates were not significant. The model outputs were made available to the public in the form of risk maps, indicating the distribution of tick-borne disease risk in space. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
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Review

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Review
Management Options for Ixodes ricinus-Associated Pathogens: A Review of Prevention Strategies
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1830; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061830 - 12 Mar 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 2059
Abstract
Ticks are important human and animal parasites and vectors of many infectious disease agents. Control of tick activity is an effective tool to reduce the risk of contracting tick-transmitted diseases. The castor bean tick (Ixodes ricinus) is the most common tick [...] Read more.
Ticks are important human and animal parasites and vectors of many infectious disease agents. Control of tick activity is an effective tool to reduce the risk of contracting tick-transmitted diseases. The castor bean tick (Ixodes ricinus) is the most common tick species in Europe. It is also a vector of the causative agents of Lyme borreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis, which are two of the most important arthropod-borne diseases in Europe. In recent years, increases in tick activity and incidence of tick-borne diseases have been observed in many European countries. These increases are linked to many ecological and anthropogenic factors such as landscape management, climate change, animal migration, and increased popularity of outdoor activities or changes in land usage. Tick activity is driven by many biotic and abiotic factors, some of which can be effectively managed to decrease risk of tick bites. In the USA, recommendations for landscape management, tick host control, and tick chemical control are well-defined for the applied purpose of reducing tick presence on private property. In Europe, where fewer studies have assessed tick management strategies, the similarity in ecological factors influencing vector presence suggests that approaches that work in USA may also be applicable. In this article we review key factors driving the tick exposure risk in Europe to select those most conducive to management for decreased tick-associated risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
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Review
A Review on Equine Piroplasmosis: Epidemiology, Vector Ecology, Risk Factors, Host Immunity, Diagnosis and Control
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(10), 1736; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16101736 - 16 May 2019
Cited by 43 | Viewed by 3940
Abstract
Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) is a tick-borne disease caused by apicomplexan protozoan parasites, Babesia caballi and Theileria equi. The disease is responsible for serious economic losses to the equine industry. It principally affects donkeys, horses, mules, and zebra but DNA of the parasites [...] Read more.
Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) is a tick-borne disease caused by apicomplexan protozoan parasites, Babesia caballi and Theileria equi. The disease is responsible for serious economic losses to the equine industry. It principally affects donkeys, horses, mules, and zebra but DNA of the parasites has also been detected in dogs and camels raising doubt about their host specificity. The disease is endemic in tropical and temperate regions of the world where the competent tick vectors are prevalent. Infected equids remain carrier for life with T. equi infection, whilst, infection with B. caballi is cleared within a few years. This review focuses on all aspects of the disease from the historical overview, biology of the parasite, epidemiology of the disease (specifically highlighting other non-equine hosts, such as dogs and camels), vector, clinical manifestations, risk factors, immunology, genetic diversity, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ticks and Tick Vectored Diseases—Biology to Society)
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