Tick distribution along animal tracks: implication for preventative medicine
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Pavol Jozef Safarik University, Kosice, Slovak Republic
Department of Systematic Zoology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
CREAF, Cerdanyola del Valles, Catalonia, Spain
Institute of Zoology, Poznań University of Life Sciences, Poznań, Poland
Research & Development Centre, HiProMine S.A., Robakowo, Poland
Institute of Parasitology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Kosice, Slovak Republic
Department of preclinical sciences and infectious diseases, Poznań University of Life Sciences, Poznań, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2018;25(2):360–363
Tick abundance and the prevalence of the pathogens they carry have been increasing worldwide in the last decades, and is projected to increase even further. Despite the fact that problem is global, there still remain many gaps in the diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne diseases. The best protection from tick-borne pathogens, therefore, is prevention and avoidance of bites. Ticks mobility is limited so that their spatial distribution is strongly correlated with the presence of, especially with large mammals. In this study, the hypothesis was tested that tick abundance is higher on animal tracks in the forests than in adjacent habitats. This is an important issue because there are still several human habits and practices that can decrease the zoonoses risk. For example, during recreation in forest, people should always walk on the paths (including narrow animal’s tracks) instead of wading through bushes.

Material and methods:
Flagging of animal trails and near control transects were performed simultaneously. Next, collected ticks were counted, sexed and aged.

The abundance of ticks was almost 5-fold (Ixodes ricinus) and 3-fold (Dermacentor spp.) higher on animal trails than on adjacent control transects.

The results obtained support the hypothesis that ticks are more abundant on pathways than in adjacent habitats. Most likely, the pattern emerges because large mammals, like deer, which are the most important ticks hosts, use forest paths to move across the landscape and frequently move along the same routes. This research sends an important public message that these forest trails are hotspots of disease risk and should be avoided.

Krzysztof Dudek   
Institute of Zoology, Wojska Polskiego, 60-625 Poznań, Poland
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