Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
  • Publication
    Update on the presence of Ixodes ricinus at the western limit of its range and the prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato
    It is often suggested that due to climate and environmental policy changes, the risk from tick-borne disease is increasing, particularly at the geographical limits of the vector distribution. Our project aimed to determine whether this was true for the risk of Lyme borreliosis in Ireland which is the western-most limit of Ixodes ricinus, the European vector of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. The availability of a historical data set of tick infection rates compiled in the 1990s represented a unique opportunity as it provided a baseline against which current data could be compared. Following construction of a spatial predictive model for the presence and absence of I. ricinus based on data from 491 GPS locations visited between 2016 and 2019, 1404 questing nymphs from 27 sites were screened for the presence of Borrelia spp. using a TaqMan PCR aimed at the 23S rRNA gene sequence. All positive ticks were further analysed by nested PCR amplification and sequence analysis of the 5 S–23 S intergenic spacer. The model indicated that areas with the highest probability of tick presence were mostly located along the western seaboard and the Shannon and Erne river catchments, coinciding with historical high incidence areas of bovine babesiosis, while the infection rate of questing nymphs with B. burgdorferi s.l. and the prevalence of the various genospecies have remained surprisingly stable over the last 3 decades. Clear communication of the potential disease risk arising from a tick bite is essential in order to allay undue concerns over tick-borne diseases among the general public.
      225Scopus© Citations 12
  • Publication
    Changing incidence of bovine babesiosis in Ireland
    Background: In Ireland bovine babesiosis is caused by the tick-borne blood parasite, Babesia divergens. A survey of veterinary practitioners and farmers in the 1980’s revealed an annual incidence of 1.7% associated with considerable economic losses. However, two subsequent surveys in the 1990’s indicated a decline in clinical babesiosis. Recent evidence from continental Europe suggests that, probably due to climate change, the distribution of the tick vector of B. divergens, Ixodes ricinus is extending to more northerly regions and higher altitudes. In addition, milder winters are thought to widen the window of tick activity. In order to determine whether any such changes have affected the incidence of bovine babesiosis in Ireland, a questionnaire survey of farmers and veterinarians was carried out and compared with data from previous surveys. Results: Our survey indicates that while the incidence of clinical disease has continued to decline, cases can occur at any time of year. In contrast to previous surveys, affected farms were the same size as unaffected ones. There was no correlation between disease risk and the presence of deer on the land. Disease severity and mortality rates were increased because many infections were advanced by the time they were detected and treated. Conclusion: While the precise reasons for the decline in the incidence of redwater are unknown, changes in agricultural practice are likely to be of importance. A reversal of the trend could be devastating, as vigilance among farmers and veterinarians is flagging and the national herd is losing its protective immunity to disease.
      411Scopus© Citations 25
  • Publication
    What do we still need to know about Ixodes ricinus?
    In spite of many decades of intensive research on Ixodes ricinus, the castor bean tick of Europe, several important aspects of its basic biology remain elusive, such as the factors determining seasonal development, tick abundance and host specificity, and the importance of water management. Additionally, there are more recent questions about the geographical diversity of tick genotypes and phenotypes, the role of migratory birds in the ecoepidemiology of I. ricinus, the importance of protective immune responses against I. ricinus, particularly in the context of vaccination, and the role of the microbiome in pathogen transmission. Without more detailed knowledge of these issues, it is difficult to assess the likely effects of changes in climate and biodiversity on tick distribution and activity, to predict potential risks arising from new and established tick populations and I. ricinus-borne pathogens, and to improve prevention and control measures. This review aims to discuss the most important outstanding questions against the backdrop of the current state of knowledge of this important tick species.
      149Scopus© Citations 41
  • Publication
    Changing epidemiology of the tick-borne bovine parasite, Babesia divergens
    Bovine babesiosis is caused by the tick-borne blood parasite, Babesia divergens. A survey of veterinary practitioners and farmers in Ireland in the 1980’s revealed an annual incidence of 1.7% associated with considerable economic losses. However, two subsequent surveys in the 1990’s indicated a decline in clinical babesiosis. In order to determine whether any such changes have affected the incidence of bovine babesiosis in Ireland, a questionnaire survey of farmers and veterinarians was carried out and compared against data from previous surveys.
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