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Ixodid Ticks on Feral Swine and Other Mammals in South-Central Florida

  • Author(s): Merrill, Mary M.
  • Lord, Cynthia C.
  • Turner, E. Lynn
  • Boughton, Raoul K.
  • Hernández, Felipe A.
  • Wisely, Samantha M.
  • et al.
Abstract

Feral swine in the United States are known to harbor both native and exotic Ixodid ticks. The expanding range, broad habitat use, high population potential, and large movements of feral swine may increase the distribution and density of certain tick species and tick-borne pathogens that can infect humans, livestock, and wildlife. This preliminary study was conducted to determine which tick species are present on feral swine as well as other mammals sympatric with feral swine in south-central Florida. We trapped large-, medium-, and small-bodied mammals at two study sites, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park and MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center, from February to May of 2014. We examined mammals for ticks and conducted drags for host-seeking ticks. We trapped five mammal species (feral swine, Florida mouse, marsh rice rat, Virginia opossum, and northern raccoon). From these animals we identified four native tick species (Amblyomma americanum, A. maculatum, Dermacentor variabilis, and Ixodes scapularis) and one exotic to the United States (A. auricularium). We also obtained carcasses of nine-banded armadillos in Brevard County, on which we found A. auricularium. This is the first report of I. scapularis in Okeechobee County and A. auricularium in Brevard and Highlands Counties. All four native tick species are known disease vectors. These data reiterate that many mammals that share habitat with livestock and commonly contact humans are hosts to many ticks of medical and veterinary importance. Coupled with the population, distribution potential, and movement of feral swine, the diversity of ticks found in this study highlights the need for further research on the ability of feral swine to host and distribute ticks and tick-borne pathogens among wildlife, livestock, and humans.

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