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ARS Home » Plains Area » Kerrville, Texas » Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory » LAPRU » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #317920

Research Project: Cattle Fever Tick Control and Eradication

Location: Livestock Arthropod Pests Research

Title: Assessment of the geographic distribution of Ornithodoros turicata (Argasidae): climate variation and host diversity

item DONALDSON, TAYLOR - Texas A&M University
item Perez De Leon, Adalberto - Beto
item Li, Andrew
item CASTRO-ARELLANO, IVAN - Texas State University
item WOZNIAK, EDWARD - Texas State Guard
item BOYLE, WILLIAM - Mississippi State University
item HARGROVE, REID - Mississippi State University
item WILDER, HANNAH - Baylor College Of Medicine
item KIM, HEE - Texas A&M University
item TEEL, PETE - Texas A&M University
item LOPEZ, JOB - Baylor College Of Medicine

Submitted to: PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2015
Publication Date: 2/1/2016
Citation: Donaldson, T.G., Perez De Leon, A.A., Li, A.Y., Castro-Arellano, I., Wozniak, E., Boyle, W.K., Hargrove, R., Wilder, H.K., Kim, H.J., Teel, P.D., Lopez, J.E. 2016. Assessment of the geographic distribution of Ornithodoros turicata (Argasidae): climate variation and host diversity. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2:1-19. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004383.

Interpretive Summary: Ornithodoros soft ticks are vectors of Borrelia spirochetes that cause tick-borne relapsing fever in the western United States and the virus that causes African swine fever (ASF) affecting domestic swine production in Africa and several eastern European countries. ASF outbreaks have occurred in Central and South Americas, and the Caribbean in the past. The relapsing fever tick, Ornithodoros turicata, is known to exist in southwestern United States. As a part of risk assessment effort, a team of researchers, including two USDA ARS research entomologists, engaged in a collaborative study to reassess the geographic distribution of this tick species in relation to host diversity and climate variation. Results of simulation modeling predicted previously unrecognized suitable habitat for O. turicata. This study may aid future soft tick surveillance work with the goal of minimizing the risk of transmission of tick-borne pathogens to human and animal populations in the United States.

Technical Abstract: Ornithodoros turicata is an argasid, or soft tick of medical and veterinary importance because it is a known vector of the relapsing fever spirochete, Borrelia turicatae, and potentially African swine fever virus. Historic collections of O. turicata have been recorded from Latin America to the southern United States, yet the geographic distribution of this soft tick is poorly understood in relation to environmental variables, which are known to influence significantly the range of tick species, their hosts, and consequently the epidemiology of tick-borne diseases. Here, localities of endemic foci for O. turicata were generated by performing literature searches, evaluating records from the United States National Tick Collection, and by conducting field studies. We predicted the current distribution of O. turicata using maximum entropy species distribution modeling (Maxent). Vertebrate host diversity and distribution GIS analyses were also used to ascertain the area of tick and host sympatry. Our results predicted previously unrecognized suitable habitat for O. turicata, and could guide future surveillance efforts for this soft tick vector capable of transmitting high-consequence pathogens to human and animal populations.