Ticks are invertebrates and blood feeding parasites belonging to phylum arthropoda. They are similar to animals such as spiders and insects. They have outer covering by which the muscles are attached.
Ticks are found in all parts of the world. Mostly they are present in warm and humid climate. Ticks are almost absent in winter season. They are obligatory blood feeding parasites. However, once they feed, can survive up to years.
Ticks have great economic importance by various means directly and indirectly. Direct losses can be seen when there is a tick burden on the animal whose consequences could be damaged hide, loss of blood, immunosupression etc.
Indirect losses include the decrease in milk and meat production, diseased condition and mortalities in severe conditions. Like other arthropods, ticks have capability to transmit diseases. Ticks are vector of many pathogens as they help in pathogenic transmission. Many species of ticks are serious threat for human and animal health.
Some species of veterinary and public health significance are Hyalomma, Amblyomma, Dermacentor, Ixodes, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus), and Hemaphysalis. The species of soft ticks are Ornithodors, Argas and Otobius.
The pathogens which can be transmitted through ticks are viruses, bacteria, rickettsia, spirochetes and blood protozoa such as Babesia and Theileria. To mitigate tick-borne diseases there is need to root out etiological agent.
Recently, an emerging disease which has been reported to be transmitted through ticks is Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF). It can be transmitted by various vectors (mosquitos, ticks etc.) but the most important is tick vector.
CCHF is a viral pathogen (arbo virus) which is transmitted by hard tick (Hyalomma) causing disease in humans. This tick is also known as bont-legged tick. This tick has a character of yellow spots on legs which differentiates it from other ticks.
This disease is present worldwide. More than couple of continents represented this disease as endemic. Africa, Asia particularly central Asia, Eastern and south Europe have shown regular occurrence of the disease. This virus spread from human to human through physical contact, blood saliva and transplantation of organs.
Ticks are present on the body of host but they don’t show the clinical signs of the disease in host (e.g. cattle) except mild clinical signs of temperature or transient fever. But, it has a proper medical importance due to its zoonotic capability.
This disease can’t be diagnosed in the animals. But they can only be indicated in cattle due to presence of ticks on the cattle. It is an emerging disease of zoonotic importance in many countries.
It has been reported that the cases of CCHF increased worldwide like in Eastern Mediterranean Region in which Pakistan is located. The surrounding countries of Pakistan have also been reported as there is prevalence of CCHF both in animals and humans.
Pakistan is ranked 4th for the prevalence of CCHF. There is neither treatment nor any vaccine available to mitigate the effects of CCHF disease.
CCHF spreads when the infected tick bites the animal or human. Moreover, it can also be spread by direct blood contact and body secretions of the infected animals. Human to human transmission may also be possible.
Mostly, occupational people are affected by the CCHF due to their common availability to ticks and infected animals. The occupational people are the farmers of livestock, workers at abattoir, veterinarians and para-vet staff which are at higher risk.
- Clinical signs in humans
The infected patients can present fever in 3-9 days after penetration of Congo virus, pain in muscles (myalgia), fatigue, severe pain in back, diarrhea and abdominal pain, eyes become reddish and pain, splenomegaly, increased heart rate (tachycardia), severe reduction in platelets
pain in neck, grumbling, vomiting, nausea and sore throat, appearance of red spots, loss of appetite (anorexia) and headache. If the infected person is not treated it may lead to enlargement of liver (hepatomegaly) and enlargement of spleen (splenomegaly) which further leads to oozing out of blood from ear, nose, eyes and gums and that causes death of a human.
To avoid adverse effects of CCHF both in animals and humans one must have to follow the following recommendations:
- Recommendations for Humans
- Dealers of animals should consult the veterinarian before bringing animals to market.
- People should keep themselves away from the infected animals of ticks.
They must choose tick-free animals for sacrificial purpose.
- In livestock market, buyers are advised that they should wear sleeved shirts (dress) having bright white dress that can decrease the direct exposure of body to ticks and on the bright dress ticks can be easily spotted.
- People should use gloves and face masks and wear boots or at least socks with their shoes.
- People are recommended to make sure the use of tick repellents before entering to cattle market.
- Children should not come close to tick infested animals.
- The people are advised not to remove ticks from the hosts bare-handed.
- Infected animals don’t show major signs and symptoms, so it is recommended that the animal having tick infestation should be slaughtered by professional butchers in a slaughter house.
- Meat of tick infested animal should not be handled bare-handed.
- Offals and the other leftovers of animals should be discarded properly by handing to municipal corporation staff, or by burying it.
- Customers are advised to consult a veterinary doctor before bringing animals to home.
- In case of any worriment such as, diarrohea, nausea, pain in muscle and abdomen, vomiting etc, it is recommended that the person suffering from any of these problems should consult the physicians immediately.
- Recommendations for animals
- There is need for the farmers to maintain proper check and balance regarding ticks.
- It is necessary to keep the animal in clean area.
- Animals should be sprayed with antitick spray on sheds and spread limestone to control ticks.
- There should not be cracks in the walls of the premises because a tick can survive more than 20 years without blood feeding.
- While bringing to market, animals should not pass from grasslands.
- Before entering the animals in livestock market, they must be sprayed with anti-tick medicine.
- Recommendations for both human and animals
- After scarifying the animals, wait for 30 minutes that blood take lot of time to be eliminated from body. After 30 minutes nearly complete blood eliminate from body then remove the skin from the animal.
- Don’t let blood of infected animal to mix in sewerage but discard the blood in a dig.
- Slaughter house must be disinfected before and after scarifying animals.
In case of any worriment such as fever in animal owner should consult the veterinarian immediately.
Authors: Muhammad Zeeshan1*, Muhammad Sohail Sajid1,2
1Department of Parasitology, 2One Health Laboratory, (CAS-AFS), University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
Corresponding author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org