Migrating birds and carnivores introduce ticks and tick borne pathogens to Denmark – but are they also a public health risk?

Rene Bødker, Erika Vrbová, Jesper Højgaard, Jesper J. Madsen, Kasper Thorup, Lene Jung Kjær, Mariann Chriél, Anastasia Isbrand, Kirstine Klitgaard Schou

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    Since the end of the ice age, spring migrating birds from Africa and Europe and autumn migrating birds from Northern Scandinavia have entered Denmark, and recently a small wave of long migrating carnivores have started arriving in Denmark from Central Europe. Theoretically, migrating birds could introduce new tick species as well as tick-associated pathogens to Denmark. These migrating animals may also carry ticks and pathogens which already exist in native tick populations in Denmark. The potential supplement of native ticks and existing pathogens to the established high density tick populations in Danish forest and nature areas can be expected to be of little practical importance. However, some of the infected ticks, introduced by migrating birds, may be deposited in private gardens and public parks that are otherwise not able to sustain a viable tick population. Migrating birds may therefore introduce a low level risk of tick borne infections to urban areas. Also the recent unexpected wave of long migrating golden jackals (Canis aureus) and grey wolves (Canis lupus), arriving at the Danish peninsula of Jutland, constitutes an emerging risk of introduction of especially Dermacentor spp ticks and their associated pathogens from Germany and Central Europe. Here, we present the results of screening migrating birds and a golden jackal for ticks as well as ticks collected by flagging in selected urban areas in Denmark. The collected ticks were screened for exotic tick species and 38 different tick borne pathogens. We show that the risk is not just theoretical and we suggest that these introductions may have a practical public health impact.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2018
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventNordTick 2018 - Flåttsenteret, Åland, Finland
    Duration: 10 Apr 201812 Apr 2018


    ConferenceNordTick 2018
    Internet address


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