Newly introduced ticks are a potential meningitis transmitter

Newly introduced ticks are a potential meningitis transmitter

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Scientists identify a new tick species in Germany

Ticks are now active almost all year round in Germany and other European countries. The mild temperatures during the winter months are the reason for the increased activity of the blood-sucking parasites. Researchers have now found that the tick species called Ixodes inopinatus also appears to be a possible new vector for meningitis in this country.

The scientists at the German Center for Infection Research have identified a new possible vector for meningitis: it is the tick species Ixodes inopinatus. The experts published the results of their investigation in the English-language journal "ScienceDirekt".

Parasites are now active in Germany almost all year round

Ticks are known carriers of meningitis. In the past, it was normal in Germany that ticks, at least in winter, did not pose a threat to people due to a lack of activity. But now many ticks are active in autumn too. Thanks to the mild temperatures in the winter months, ticks pose a threat almost all year round. Unfortunately, ticks are spreading further and further throughout Europe.

Why does the tick species Ixodes inopinatus spread in Europe?

In 2016, cases of infection by the tick species Ixodes inopinatus were detected in the Netherlands for the first time. Of course, experts asked themselves the cause of the increasing spread of these ticks. Scientists suspected that birds contribute to the large-scale spread of ticks.

Ixodes inopinatus discovered in southern Germany

Molecular biological studies of TBE viruses from different regions of Europe showed that the viruses are particularly common on the known bird migration lines. So scientists collected ticks at these so-called bird resting places for their study. The researchers at the German Center for Infection Research discovered that there is now a tick species in southern Germany, which has so far usually only occurred in the Mediterranean area.

Does Ixodes inopinatus transmit the TBE virus?

It is still unclear whether the discovered tick species Ixodes inopinatus also transmits the TBE virus in Germany. This type of tick is still largely unknown in Germany. The scientists therefore also want to find out whether the ticks may transmit completely new pathogens that have not yet been found in Germany.

Other new tick species have also been occasionally detected

In addition to the tick species Ixodes inopinatus mentioned here, the researchers also identified other tick species during their investigation, which have so far only been detected occasionally. The tick fauna is much more diverse than previously thought, explains the author Gerhard Dobler from the Institute of Microbiology in Munich.

The spread of ticks could have a major impact

The importance of the spread of ticks across entire continents has so far been underestimated and not sufficiently researched. Such a process could be a possible reason for the appearance of newly introduced diseases, which are transmitted through contact with ticks. In other words, such a path of propagation could be of much greater importance than previously thought, adds Dobler. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Regional Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center Annual Public Education Event - 71517 (August 2022).