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Research Project: BIOLOGY AND CONTROL OF TICKS OF VETERINARY AND HUMAN IMPORTANCE

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Title: Soft tick sampling and collection

Author
item Perez De Leon, Adalberto - Beto
item Showler, Allan
item Kucheryavenko, Roman - National Scientific Center
item Li, Andrew
item Kucheryavenko, Viktoriya - National Scientific Center
item Filatov, Sergii - National Scientific Center
item Teel, Peter - Texas A&m Agrilife
item Mcvey, D Scott - Scott

Submitted to: Journal for Veterinary Medicine, Biotechnology and Biosafety
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/7/2014
Publication Date: 10/1/2015
Citation: Perez De Leon, A.A., Showler, A., Kucheryavenko, R.O., Li, A.Y., Kucheryavenko, V., Filatov, S., Teel, P., Mcvey, D.S. 2015. Soft tick sampling and collection. Journal for Veterinary Medicine, Biotechnology and Biosafety. 1(2):5-11.

Interpretive Summary: Several species of soft ticks transmit African swine fever virus (ASFV), which causes African swine fever (ASF) in pigs. ASF is one of the most serious swine diseases because of its high lethality for pigs, its crippling socio-economic consequences, its propensity for rapid and unanticipated international spread, and the absence of either treatment or vaccine. Recent developments in Eastern Europe indicate that further geographic expansion of ASF is likely to occur, requiring increased prevention and vigilance to protect pig populations and the associated businesses and livelihoods. Systematic surveillance for soft ticks that could transmit ASFV in Eastern Europe remains to be established. Soft ticks are particularly challenging to sample because they feed faster and spend less time associated with their hosts than hard ticks, and have cryptic behaviors, such as residing within cracks, nests, and animal burrows. We describe sampling techniques for soft ticks that include handpicking, vacuum, baiting, and trapping by using carbon dioxide. This effort is part of collaborative research with scientists in Ukraine.

Technical Abstract: Several soft tick species in the genus Ornithodoros are vectors of African swine fever virus (ASFV) in nature, or known to be susceptible to infection. African swine fever (ASF) caused by ASFV is considered one of the most serious transboundary swine diseases because of its high lethality for pigs, its crippling socio-economic consequences, its propensity for rapid and unanticipated international spread, and the absence of either treatment or vaccine. Recent developments in Eastern Europe indicate that further geographic expansion of ASF is likely to occur, requiring increased prevention and vigilance to protect swine populations and the associated businesses and livelihoods. Although Ornithodoros ticks have been reported in the Caucasus region, their current species composition and distribution remains to be fully understood. There is no surveillance for soft ticks and the pathogens they transmit in Ukraine, which is surrounded by territory in which ASFV is present and legitimate concern for the introduction of ASF. Here we describe samplings techniques for Ornithodoros ticks. This information is important for efforts to develop soft tick surveillance programs. There are approximately 36 species of Ornithodoros ticks in the world that show these general characteristics: i) nidicolous lifestyle, ii) indiscriminate host feeding and short bloodmeal duration, and iii) flexible developmental cycles via diapause periods. Methods applied commonly to sample these ticks include: handpicking, aspiration of host nests or burrows, baiting and trapping using CO2. A systematic analysis of such information helped us plan a practical system for sustainable surveillance based on targeting the most likely areas of ASF introduction and the most susceptible tick vectors and hosts in the Ukraine. Collaborative research efforts on these aspects will also strengthen American agricultural biosecurity and preparedness because of the presence of large populations of feral hogs in the U.S. that have close contact with potential soft tick vectors of ASFV. There are approximately 5 million feral swine in the U.S. and in the state of Texas, which borders Mexico to the south, there are around 2 million of them. Ornithodoros ticks have been found to infest feral swine in Brazil.