Sympatric Ixodes trianguliceps and Ixodes ricinus ticks feeding on field voles (Microtus agrestis): Potential for increased risk of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in the United Kingdom?

K. J. Bown, M. Begon, M. Bennett, R. J. Birtles, S. Burthe, Xavier Lambin, S. Telfer, Z. Woldehiwet, N. H. Ogden

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The importance of wild rodents as reservoirs of zoonotic tick-borne pathogens is considered low in the United Kingdom because, in studies to date, those parasitized by exophilic Ixodes ricinus ticks carry almost exclusively larvae and thus have a minor role in transmission cycles. In a cross-sectional study, 11 (6.7%) of 163 field voles (Microtus agrestis) captured at field sites in Northern England were PCR-positive for Anaplasma phagocytophilum. The voles were found to act as hosts for both larval and nymphal I. ricinus and all stages of the nidicolous tick I. trianguliceps, and eight individuals were infested with ticks of both species at the same time. Two of 158 larval and one of 13 nymphal I. ricinus, as well as one of 14 larval and one of 15 nymphal I. trianguliceps collected from the rodents were PCR-positive. These findings suggest that habitats where field voles are abundant in the United Kingdom may pose a risk of A. phagocytophilum infection because (i) field voles, the most abundant terrestrial mammal in the United Kingdom, may be a competent reservoir; (ii) the field voles are hosts for both nymphal and larval ixodid ticks so they could support endemic cycles of A. phagocytophilum; and (iii) they are hosts for nidicolous I. trianguliceps, which may alone maintain endemic cycles, and exophilic I. ricinus ticks, which could act as a bridge vector and transmit infections to humans and domesticated animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-410
Number of pages7
JournalVector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum
  • Ixodes rincinus
  • Ixodes trianguliceps
  • Burgdorferi sensu lato
  • Borrelia-burgdorferi
  • Lyme disease
  • granulocytic ehrlichiae
  • seasonal dynamics
  • Babesia microti
  • transmission
  • ixodidae
  • acari
  • Ireland

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