Urgently wanted: The brown dog tick

The brown dog tick is increasingly migrating from southern climes to Germany. Once dragged into the house by a dog, the tick nests and lays up to 4,000 eggs. Then, the tick can also become a problem for humans. The German University of Hohenheim is asking for everyone's help to keep track.

Researchers ask citizens to report ticks via photographs

The brown dog tick is increasingly migrating from southern climes to Germany. Once dragged into the house by a dog, the tick nests itself and lays up to 4,000 eggs. Then, the brown dog tick also becomes a problem for humans. The German University of Hohenheim is asking for everyone's help to keep track.

The brown dog tick prefers temperatures of around 25°C and dry climate. In such a setting, it prefers to lurk in small, stony crevices. And if there is a dog nearby, the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) has the ideal habitat for itself.

"Unlike our common castor bean tick (Ixodes ricinus), the brown dog tick can survive very well in flats," said Katrin Fachet from the Department of Parasitology at the University of Hohenheim. "The brown tick is actually at home in the Mediterranean and North Africa regions, so it enjoys our warm and dry apartments very much."

Prof. Dr. Ute Mackenstedt, parasitologist and tick expert at the University of Hohenheim, also suspects that she will be brought to Germany by holidaymakers. "We can assume that owners, who were abroad on vacation with their dogs, bring the brown dog tick to Germany. But specimens have also been found on dogs that had never left their yard - an indication that the species may already have gained a foothold here."

Swift spread: nests with several thousand ticks can develop

Once nested, the brown dog tick can very quickly become a very unpleasant plague. "A female castor bean tick can lay up to 2,000 eggs - a female brown dog tick, up to 4,000! Within a few months, you'll quickly have several thousand ticks in your home."

This could also be dangerous for humans under certain circumstances. "Normally the brown dog tick - as the name suggests - attacks almost exclusively dogs. But if the population is too large and the host is no longer sufficient, then it is not picky and looks for the next best thing: humans."

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) or borreliosis has not yet been detected in this tick species. But there are other diseases. The brown dog tick can lead to serious diseases in dogs. It also brings with it diseases transmissible to humans such as the Boutonneuse fever caused by the rickettsia bacteria.

Public appeal to report potential tick findings

The University of Hohenheim is also asking the population for help with a research project: The aim is to accompany as many affected cases as possible from the beginning to the end of the infestation. If you are based in Germany and notice an unusual number of brown ticks in a building, or you know of any family dogs infested by ticks that may look similar to the brown dog tick, then please send an email including a photo of the tick to hundezecken@uni-hohenheim.de.

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