Geographic distribution of the invasive cattle tick Rhipicephalus microplus, a country-wide survey in Benin
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The cattle tick Rhipicephalus microplus is currently invading the West African region, and little information is available on the spread of this exotic tick in this region. We set out a country-wide field survey to determine its current distribution in Benin. Ticks were collected on cattle from 106 farms selected by random sampling covering all regions of the country. Rhipicephalus annulatus was found on 70 % of all farms, R. decoloratus on 42 %, R. geigyi on 58 %, and R. microplus on 49 %. There is a clear geographic separation between the indigenous Rhipicephalus species and R. microplus. Rhipicephalus annulatus occurs mainly in the northern departments, but it was also observed in lower numbers in locations in the south. The presence of R. decoloratus is limited to the northern region, and in most locations, this tick makes up a small proportion of the collected ticks. The tick R. geigyi tends to be dominant, but occurs only in the four northern departments. The observations concerning R. microplus are entirely different, this species occurs in the southern and central region. The results of this survey confirm the invasive character and displacement properties of R. microplus, since in less than a decade it has colonized more than half of the country and has displaced indigenous ticks of the same genus in many of the sampled locations.
KeywordsRhipicephalus microplus Babesia bovis Geographic tick distribution Country-wide tick survey Cattle
We would like to thank the staff of the Direction de l’Elevage (DE) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MAEP) in Benin for their help during the field work. We are very grateful to all people that assisted us during the tick collection, especially the cattle owners and herdsmen. This work was funded by the Belgian Science Policy Programs (Belspo, SR/00/144).
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