Ticks (Ixodidae) from passerine birds in the Carpathian region

Eva Špitalská, Ivan Literák, Olivier A.E. Sparagano, Marina Golovchenko, Elena Kocianová

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Birds have been found to be a reservoir host of borrelia. In order to assess the situation in Slovakia ticks were collected from a total of 3057 mist-netted, ringed and released passerine birds in two locations at 500 m (in 2001) and 1000 m (in 2003) above sea level in the Bukovské Vrchy Hills, part of the Carpathian region in the north-east of Slovakia. A total of 75 birds of 16 species were infested with subadult ticks of Ixodes ricinus species (prevalence of parasitization 2.5%). Sixty-two larvae from 31 birds of 9 species and 80 nymphs from 52 birds of 15 species were found. The highest intensity of parasitization was observed on blackbirds Turdus merula, song thrushes T. philomelos and dunnocks Prunella modularis. Six Ixodes ricinus adult ticks were found on humans working with birds, and one I. ricinus female tick on their dog. In ticks, the presence of Rickettsia sp., Coxiella burnetii, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and members of the Anaplasmataceae and Piroplasmidae, were investigated by polymerase chain reaction, followed by sequence analysis. Rickettsia sp. was found in 1 nymph from the European robin Erithacus rubecula, in 3 adult ticks (1 male, 2 females) from humans and in the tick from the dog. The closely related Ehrlichia-like species "Schotti variant" was detected in 1 nymph from the song thrush. Borrelia afzelii was identified in 1 male and B. garinii in 1 female tick collected on humans. Ixodes ricinus was found to be the vector of a wide spectrum of tick-borne pathogens in a mountainous area of the Carpathians. Because of the low yield of ticks and pathogens the importance of birds as reservoir hosts is still poorly understood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-764
Number of pages6
JournalWiener Klinische Wochenschrift
Issue number23-24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Borrelia
  • Carpathians
  • Ehrlichia
  • Ixodes ricinus
  • Passerine birds
  • Rickettsia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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