, Volume 24, Issue 9, pp 665-681

Seasonal Population Dynamics of Ixodes Ticks and Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus

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Abstract

Seasonality of the epidemic and epizootic processes of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) depend on the period of activity of ixodid ticks Ixodes persulcatus Schulze and I. ricinus Linnaeus, which are the main reservoirs and vectors of TBE virus, and also on the process of their activation. The period of activity is the period during which the ticks occur in the active state. Activation is the transition into this state of ticks that moulted from the preceding stage and completed post-moulting development. For I. persulcatus, the first adult ticks generally emerge between April 10 and May 9. Under a variety of natural conditions, activation of adult I. persulcatus after wintering lasts for 45–86 days and this period may be even longer in certain areas of the Far East. The period during which one-half of the entire tick population becomes activated (AT50) comprises no more than 10–20 days. In adult I. ricinus ticks the activation period may last even longer than in I. persulcatus. The data on duration of the period of activity and on activation of larval and nymphal stages of both tick species were considered. Ticks exhausting their nutrient reserves and failing to find a host die quickly. The period during which 50% of the entire tick population die under natural conditions is designated LT50. The main types of I. persulcatus and I. ricinus seasonal activity within their species ranges were reviewed. Data on the relationship between TBE virus reproduction in a natural focus and physiological age, pattern of activation, and seasonal changes in age structure of the tick population were analyzed. Seasonal changes in the prevalence of infection among active unfed adult ticks in a natural population are determined by virus content in individual ticks at the moment of their activation and also by the duration of subsequent virus persistence (the rate of virus loss) in ticks. Apparently, the opportunity and frequency of horizontal TBE virus transmission under natural conditions, change during the season of tick activity.