Importation of Exotic Ticks into the United Kingdom via the International Trade in Reptiles
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Due to the increased trade in exotic reptiles, many of which are infested with ticks of various genera, there is an increased risk of exotic ticks and pathogens being introduced and potentially becoming established in new geographical areas. Despite the number and variety of tick species collected from reptiles, their role in the maintenance of pathogens and transmission to humans has not been fully investigated for all species. The potential public health risks to the United Kingdom have been examined through a preliminary study involving the collection and identification of exotic tick species imported via the reptile trade. Reptiles imported into Heathrow Airport, London (July 2003–October 2004) were carefully examined for ectoparasites. Five species of tick were collected: Aponomma exornatum, Ap. latum, Amblyomma rotundatum, Am. dissimile and Am. nuttalli. This is the first report of Am. dissimile identified from an interception at Heathrow airport. The potential for establishment of exotic ticks in the UK and the public health risks are discussed.
KeywordsAmblyomma Aponomma Exotic ticks Imported reptiles Risk assessment United Kingdom
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