Tropical diseases caused by migrated ticks?

Tropical diseases caused by migrated ticks?

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So far no feared tropical diseases caused by migrated ticks

In recent years, the health risks from ticks have been repeatedly pointed out. The small bloodsuckers can transmit infectious diseases such as Lyme disease and early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE). For some time, non-native species have also appeared here. So far, however, these immigrated ticks have not yet transmitted any tropical diseases.

Since it became known that there are two newly migrated ticks in Germany, many people have worried that they can also bring in dreaded tropical diseases. According to experts, this has not yet happened.

More than 3,500 ticks sent in

After the first discoveries of the tropical hyalomma tick and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) in Germany, Prof. Dr. Almost a year ago, Ute Mackenstedt from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart asked to send in suspicious ticks.

According to a recent report, the researcher has now given a preliminary all-clear after examining over 3,500 specimens with a view to the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever and the Arabic hemorrhagic fever: the feared tropical diseases have so far not been detected in any of the Hyalomma ticks sent in.

However, almost a third of these tropical ticks carry rickettsia - the causative agent of the so-called tick-spotted fever.

"Neither the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, nor the Arabic hemorrhagic fever was detected in the ticks sent in," explains Prof. Mackenstedt. But: "41 of them carried the pathogen of the tick-spotted fever (Rickettsia)."

The study was carried out by scientists from the University of Hohenheim in cooperation with the Bundeswehr Institute for Microbiology and the Hanover Veterinary University.

Animals move up to 100 meters towards their hosts

Horse owners in particular had sent in the Hyalomma tick, which was almost one centimeter in size. “Normally, the hyalomma tick likes to infest large mammals such as horses or cattle. But it cannot be ruled out that it will also affect humans and thus transmit these tropical pathogens. "

As stated in the communication, the two species Hyalomma marginatum and Hyalomma rufipes originally come from the dry and semi-arid regions of Africa, Asia, southern and eastern Europe. With their striped legs they are a striking appearance and much larger than the normal wooden trestle.

In the Eurasian region they are potential carriers of the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and the Arabic hemorrhagic fever and can trigger a form of the tick-spot fever.

Adult ticks prefer large animals as hosts to which they actively move up to 100 meters. Larvae and nymphs, on the other hand, mainly attack birds and small mammals. They stay on their landlord for up to 28 days and can therefore be brought into Germany with migratory birds.

Brown dog tick can survive in apartments

The experts from the University of Hohenheim also called for the submission of the so-called brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus). Although this is smaller than its tropical relative, Prof. Mackenstedt warns against underestimating it.

"Unlike our common woodbuck, the brown dog tick can also survive in apartments. If there is still a dog on site, it can quickly become a nuisance, ”says the expert.

"A female woodbuck can lay up to 2,000 eggs - a female female dog tick up to 4,000. Several thousand ticks develop within a short time. Although the dog is their preferred host, people are occasionally stung. It is not picky there, ”explains Prof. Mackenstedt.

If the ticks are brought into Germany, they can transmit pathogens, such as Mediterranean spot fever, which is caused by rickettsiae.

With house infestation no demolition necessary

The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) is actually native to many parts of the tropics and subtropics in addition to the Mediterranean and North Africa. It loves a warm, dry climate and can therefore, unlike the common wooden trestle, survive in apartments and quickly become a nuisance.

An infestation by the brown dog tick is unattractive and more than annoying - but no reason to swing the wrecking ball right away, emphasizes Prof. Mackenstedt.

“After our call last year, there were reports claiming that house or apartment infestation by the brown dog tick could only be solved with a demolition. Here I want to say very clearly that this is not the case. "

According to the expert, there are many ways to get rid of a tick plague. “And we would also like to advise and support those affected in this process. Nobody has to be afraid of losing their home if there is an infestation. "

Alluvial ticks are active all year round

"In addition to the Hyalomma tick and the brown dog tick, more than 3000 riparian ticks (Dermacentor reticulatus) and sheep ticks (Dermacentor marginatus) were also sent in - from areas where we did not even know that the Dermacentor species had spread there" , said the tick expert.

According to the information, both species, but above all the riparian ticks, are active all year round. "However, this type occurs more often in autumn," explains Prof. Ute Mackenstedt. "It is not uncommon for ten or more to be found on a horse or dog." Occasionally they also sting people.

Significantly fewer TBE diseases in Baden-Württemberg

According to the experts, a drastic decrease in TBE in Baden-Württemberg was also noticed.

"After the record tick year 2018 with 607 diseases of TBE (early summer meningoencephalitis), the number decreased to 462 in 2019", explains PD Dr. Gerhard Dobler, microbiologist and head of the National Consultative Laboratory for Early Summer Meningoencephalitis (TBE) at the Bundeswehr Institute for Microbiology.

“Baden-Württemberg shows 115 cases less than last year, in Bavaria the number has decreased by 24 cases. It is also interesting that the TBE number has remained the same in the other federal states, ”says the expert.

"The experts do not have an explanation for this decline in the south and the constant level in the other federal states," said Dr. Rainer Oehme from the Baden-Württemberg State Health Office. "The tick activity in 2019 was still as high as in 2018."

But even though the tick activity remained the same, the studies show, according to Dr. Take a shift in the phases of activity.

“There used to be two major tick phases: the first in April, the second weaker in September. Our data now show that these activities can change increasingly. At some locations, the second phase of activity is completely canceled, at others the ticks are also active in midsummer. ”

People are asked to help

Prof. Mackenstedt therefore repeatedly asks the population for help: "There is still a lot of research to be done on hyalomma, brown dog ticks and tick research in Germany in general."

At the Hyalomma, the experts are interested not only in the pathogens, for example, whether the tropical tick in Germany is now found not only on horses but also on cattle and when the first Hyalomma ticks appear.

“At the Brown Dog Tick, we also want to investigate whether it is possible for them to survive outside of homes due to the changed weather conditions and warmer winters. We need more data for this. We are grateful for every Hyalomma and brown dog tick that we can research in the laboratory. ”

It is best to remove seized ticks using tick pliers, tick cards or tweezers and send them in small, tightly closed containers to: Universität Hohenheim, Prof. Ute Mackenstedt, Department of Parasitology, Emil-Wolff-Straße 34, 70599 Stuttgart, note: ticks. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • University of Hohenheim: Call for ticks continues: Dreaded tropical diseases have not yet been introduced, (call: February 18, 2020), University of Hohenheim

Video: Emerging Tickborne Diseases (September 2022).


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