Species of ticks and carried pathogens in owned dogs in Spain: Results of a one-year national survey

Agustín Estrada-Peña, Xavier Roura, Angel Sainz, Guadalupe Miró, Laia Solano-Gallego

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© 2017 Elsevier GmbH This study presents the results of a national survey in Spain on the distribution of ticks on owned dogs, their phenology and the associated pathogens over one year. In the study, 1628 adult ticks were collected on 660 dogs presented to 26 veterinary practices, of which 507 dogs (76.8%) carried at least one adult tick. The primary species of ticks were Rhipicephalus sanguineus s.l. (53%), Dermacentor reticulatus (9%), Ixodes ricinus (9%), and I. hexagonus (4%). Parasitism by two species of these ticks was rare. The four species showed a clear association with the biogeographical features of the country, with I. ricinus associated with the wettest northern regions, I. hexagonus and D. reticulatus associated with the north of the territory, and R. sanguineus s.l. prevalent throughout the entire country. Dogs living in rural areas had a higher prevalence of all species, but R. sanguineus s.l. was the most prevalent; however, this tick was also more common on dogs living indoors. R. sanguineus s.l. adults were active throughout the year, with a maximum peak from March to July. The other tick species were collected throughout the year, with an autumn-winter peak of D. reticulatus, but without clear seasonality for either I. ricinus or I. hexagonus. Combined real-time PCR and conventional PCR of the feeding ticks recorded Piroplasmida (Hepatozoon canis, Babesia canis, B. gibsoni, and several sequences compatible with Theileria spp.), Rickettsia spp. (R. massiliae, R. sibirica mongolitimonae, R. monacensis), Ehrlichia canis, Anaplasma platys, A. phagocytophilum and Borrelia spp. (B. afzelii, B. garinii, B. valaisiana). Hepatozoon canis and B. canis were the most frequently detected pathogens, with variable rates of infection according to the region. Other than a close association of Borrelia spp. with I. ricinus (and therefore to the wet northern areas of the territory), the other tick-borne pathogens were recorded throughout the country. Although a potential transmission role for ticks carrying unusual pathogens cannot be attributed to these results, these findings introduce a change of paradigm on the tick-borne pathogen distribution in Spain and emphasize the importance of performing active surveys to understand the complex patterns of tick-borne pathogen distributions and their vectors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-452
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • D. reticulatus
  • I. hexagonus
  • I. ricinus
  • R. sanguineus s.l.
  • Spain
  • Ticks & tick-borne pathogens


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