Surveillance of British ticks: An overview of species records, host associations, and new records of Ixodes ricinus distribution


Cull B, Pietzsch ME, Hansford KM, Gillingham EL, Medlock JM


Public Health England’s passive Tick Surveillance Scheme (TSS) records the distribution, seasonality and host associations of ticks submitted from across the United Kingdom (UK), and helps to inform the UK government on emerging tick-borne disease risks. Here we summarise data collected through surveillance during 2010–2016, and compare with previous TSS data from 2005 to 2009, particularly in relation to the primary Lyme borreliosis vector Ixodes ricinus. 4173 records were submitted, constituting >14,000 ticks; 97% were endemic tick records (13,833 ticks of 11 species), with an additional 97 records of imported ticks (438 ticks of 17 species). Tick submissions were mainly from veterinary professionals (n = 1954; 46.8%) and members of the public and amateur entomologists (n = 1600; 38.3%), as well as from academic institutions (n = 249; 6.0%), wildlife groups (n = 239; 5.7%) and health professionals (n = 131; 3.1%). The most commonly reported hosts of endemic ticks were dogs (n = 1593; 39.1% of all records), humans (n = 835; 20.5%) and cats (n = 569; 14%). New host associations were recorded for a number of tick species. Ixodes ricinus was the most frequently recorded endemic tick species (n = 2413; 59.2% of all records), followed by I. hexagonus (n = 1355; 33.2%), I. canisuga (n = 132; 3.2%) and I. frontalis (n = 56; 1.4%), with other species each making up <1% total records. 81% of I. ricinus recorded from humans were nymphs, whereas 93.4% of I. ricinus from companion animals were adults. Recent TSS records of I. ricinus in the UK add a considerable amount of new presence data for this species, particularly in the southern regions of England, and confirm that this species is widespread across the UK. The scheme remains a valuable method of collecting continuous national distribution data on ticks from a variety of host species.


Ticks and Tick-borne diseases

Research Themes:

Vector Biology & Climate Modelling