Ticks of the genus Hyalomma are almost twice as large as sheep ticks ( Ixodes ricinus ).
Credit: Adam Cuerden
Huge invasive ticks have been discovered in the Netherlands that are genuinely appalling: they run after their hosts.
On July 1
The invasive newcomers can measure up to 6 cm (1 inch) long – about twice as long as the more common sheep tick ( Ixodes ricinus ) – and grow to 2 centimeters (0.7 inches) in case of blood attack. And while Ixodes sit ticks and wait for livestock farmers to roam nearby Hyalomma ticks actively track their hosts, hiding on the ground and then running towards them, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). [10 Important Ways to Avoid Summer Tick Bites]
Certain signals sent to Hyalomma indicate that a probable meal is in the vicinity, including body heat, vibration or odors. Ticks can visually identify a target from a distance of 9 meters. Once the host is discovered, ticks can track it for more than 10 minutes and more than 100 feet, according to the ECDC. As adults, the ticks prefer to feed large mammals, while nymphs target smaller sacrifices for their blood meals. Birds are also on the menu; It is believed that the parasites travel widely by hawking their hosts – especially when these hosts are migratory birds, said Alicja Buczek, a tick researcher at the Institute of Biology and Parasitology of the Lublin Medical University in Poland.
The transmission of H. marginatum larvae and nymphs by migratory birds over long distances, including intercontinental migration, occurs during seasonal bird migration and breeding season, "Buczek said in an e-mail to Live Science Climate change is changing ecosystems and changing birds' migratory patterns so that ticks can colonize areas where they have not previously lived, said Buczek.
Hyalomma Ticks are widespread in North Africa and Asia sporadic sightings have been reported in parts of northern Europe and Russia, but ECDCs are not believed to represent established populations.
The Dutch tick-watch raised concerns about public health Since hyalomma ticks are known vectors for hemo rrhagian Crimean Congo fever, a serious illness that causes fever, joint pain, vomiting, and uncontrolled bleeding, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Tests showed that none of the ticks carried the pathogen for hemorrhagic fever. However, the tick from Drenthe wore the microbe Rickettsia aeschlimannii which caused typhus. The first sign of typhus is usually a dark scab that forms at the site of the bite. Symptoms include rash, fever, muscle aches, and headaches, but the disease is treatable with antibiotics, according to the CDC.
Future suspected Hyalomma sightings in the Netherlands should be reported to the Dutch Food and Consumer Protection Authority, RIVM representatives said in the statement.
Originally published on Live Science .