Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

First records of adult Hyalomma marginatum and H. rufipes ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) in Sweden

From July 2018 to January 2019 we recorded 41 specimens of adult Hyalomma ticks, which had been found on horses, cattle or humans in 14 Swedish provinces. In 20 cases we received tick specimens, which were identified morphologically as adults of H. marginatum (n = 11) or H. rufipes (n = 9). These are the first documented records in Sweden of adults of H. marginatum and H. rufipes. Molecular tests for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus and piroplasms (Babesia spp. and Theileria spp.) proved negative; 12 out of 20 tested specimens were positive for rickettsiae (R. aeschlimannii was identified in 11 of the ticks). All ticks originated from people or animals that had not been abroad during the previous two months. These data suggest (i) that the adult Hyalomma ticks originated from immature ticks, which had been brought from the south by migratory birds arriving in Sweden during spring or early summer; and that (ii) due to the exceptionally warm summer of 2018 these immature ticks had been able to develop to the adult stage in the summer and/or autumn of the same year. The rapidly changing climate most likely now permits these two Hyalomma species to develop to the adult, reproductive stage in northern Europe. There is consequently a need to revise the risk maps on the potential geographic occurrence of relevant tick species and related tick-borne pathogens in Sweden and in the neighbouring countries.

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