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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

Print version ISSN 1019-9128

J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. vol.81 no.2 Pretoria  2010

 

SHORT COMMUNICATION KORT BERIG

 

Ixodid ticks on domestic dogs in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa and in Namibia

 

 

S MattheeI; C LovelyII; A GauglerIII; R BeekerIV; H R VenterV; I G HorakVI,*

IDepartment of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602 South Africa
IIGobabis Veterinary Practice, PO Box 1424, Gobabis, Namibia
IIIMariental Veterinary Practice, PO Box 256, Mariental, Namibia
IVRosh Pinah Veterinary Clinic, 98 Kwartel Street, Rosh Pinah, Namibia
VSpringbok Veterinary Clinic, 5 Namakwa Street, Springbok, 8240 South Africa
VIDepartment of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort, 0110 South Africa, and Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 9301 South Africa

 

 


ABSTRACT

The objective of this study was to determine the species composition of ixodid ticks infesting domestic dogs in the northwestern region of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa and in Namibia. Ticks were collected from February 2008 to January 2009 from dogs presented for a variety of reasons at a veterinary clinic in the Northern Cape Province and at 3 clinics in Namibia. The ticks collected at each place were pooled separately for each month at each locality. Eleven ixodid tick species were collected from dogs in the Northern Cape Province and new locality records for Haemaphysalis colesbergensis and Ixodes rubicundus, new locality and host records for Hyalomma glabrum, and a new host record for Rhipicephalus neumanni are reported. Six tick species were collected from dogs at the 3 clinics in Namibia. The most numerous species on dogs in both countries was R. sanguineus. The present results increase the total number of ixodid tick species collected from dogs in South Africa from 25 to 28.

Keywords: dogs, ixodid ticks, Namibia, Northern Cape Province, South Africa.


 

 

Surveys to determine the species composition, host spectrum and geographical distribution of ticks infesting domestic and wild animals in South Africa have been conducted since the 1940s. Because domestic dogs are readily available and usually easy to handle, they have been included in a large number of these surveys. Horak and co-workers collected a total of 25 tick species during 7 surveys conducted on dogs in South Africa4,9,12,13,16,18,20. The present surveys were initiated when a veterinarian in the Northern Cape Province and 3 in Namibia expressed their willingness to participate. No systematic surveys of the ticks infesting dogs have been conducted in these regions before.

The towns in which ticks were collected from dogs were Springbok (29º40'S, 17º52'E), Northern Cape Province, South Africa, and Rosh Pinah (27º58'S, 16º45'E), Mariental (24º37'S, 17º58'E) and Gobabis (22º26'S, 18º57'E) in Namibia. The veterinarians, or their assistants, collected ticks from dogs presented at their clinics for any of a variety of reasons from February 2008 to January 2009. Ticks were collected at Gobabis for only 7 months before the veterinarian involved moved to another locality. The ticks were stored in 70 % ethanol and those collected at each clinic were separately pooled for each month. The ticks were sent to the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, where they were identified and counted under a stereoscopic microscope.

Eleven tick species, of which 3 have not previously been recorded on dogs, were collected in the Northern Cape Province (Table 1), increasing the number of species collected from dogs in South Africa to 28. Six species were taken from the dogs in Namibia (Table 2).

 

 

 

 

Four species belonging to the genus Haemaphysalis were identified on the dogs in the Northern Cape Province. Haemaphysalis colesbergensis has recently been described from domestic cats and a dog, caracals (Caracal caracal) and a wild cat (Felis silvestris) in arid Karoo-like regions of the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape provinces of South Africa2. The present collection from a dog in the northwestern Northern Cape Province extends the known geographical distribution of this tick. The arid climate and shrub-like vegetation in the Springbok region is not unlike that in the regions in which H. colesbergensis had previously been collected.

Haemaphysalis elliptica is one of the most regularly encountered ticks on domestic dogs and large wild felids in South Africa12,14,16 and its status as a valid species distinct from Haemaphysalis leachi, with which it had been confused previously, has recently been confirmed3. Only 2 collections of H. elliptica were made from dogs in the Northern Cape Province, while none were made in Namibia. The taxonomic status of ticks identified as H. spinulosa in this and other surveys in South Africa is doubtful. The adults have been collected from dogs and cats and smaller species of wild carnivores27. Haemaphysalis zumpti infests smaller wild carnivores27 and has also been encountered on domestic dogs12,13.

Hyalomma glabrum has recently been reinstated as a valid species and is the only Hyalomma species with a strictly southern hemisphere distribution1. The adults (as Hyalomma marginatum turanicum as it was previously known) infest large wild and domestic herbivores and the immature stages infest hares and ground-frequenting birds1,15. Dogs are thus a new host record for this tick. Its geographical distribution (as H. marginatum turanicum) has previously been mapped17 and the town of Springbok represents a new locality record, considerably to the north of the current most northwesterly record11.

The collection of a nymph of H. rufipes from a dog in Namibia is unusual, in that the immature stages of this tick normally infest hares and groundfrequenting birds10,25. Although the adults of H. truncatum prefer large herbivores as hosts15, they are fairly frequently encountered on dogs, on which they may cause extremely painful penetrating wounds5.

Most early records of the adults of Ixodes rubicundus are from domestic and wild ruminants and caracals11,16,23,27. More recently, however, a total of 40 adult ticks were collected from domestic dogs in surveys in the Free State and Western Cape provinces, South Africa12,18. The presence of adult ticks on dogs at Springbok in the present survey should therefore not be considered unusual. Springbok lies to the northwest of the currently accepted distribution range of I. rubicundus17,22 and can thus be considered a new locality record. The 3 collections from dogs at Springbok were made during the winter months of June, July and August, a seasonal pattern similar to that observed on sheep in the Northern Cape Province11.

The adults of Rhipicentor nuttalli are apparently common on dogs in the Clanwilliam district of the Western Cape Province in late summer24. They have also been collected from various wild carnivores14 and are also common on South African hedgehogs (Atelerix frontalis)27. Infestation of dogs may result in paralysis21.

Rhipicephalus follis and R. gertrudae are similar morphologically and in their host preferences28. The adults infest large monogastric animals such as equids, suids, canids and felids, but are also encountered on cattle and sheep7,11,12,15,27. Their immature stages utilise murid rodents as hosts6,19. In the most recent comprehensive list of tick/host records for R. gertrudae, only 3 collections of adult ticks of this species were reported from domestic dogs28. Published records now exceed 80 collections.

The adults of R. neumanni attach to the feet of sheep (and probably other clovenhooved animals) and this may lead to lameness in infested sheep26. Adult ticks have, however, apparently not previously been collected from domestic dogs28.

In South Africa all stages of development of R. sanguineus feed on domestic dogs28, and are associated with anthropogenic structures8. Infestations of other host species are rare, and probably only occur on animals closely associated with dogs or utilising the same sleeping quarters, or they could be mistaken identifications of Rhipicephalus turanicus, of which some specimens are remarkably similar to R. sanguineus28. The large number of collections currently recorded suggests that the dogs were confined to the properties of their owners or were chained or kennelled there at night4. The exceptionally large variety of tick species, other than R. sanguineus, collected at Springbok is an indication that a number of the dogs sampled there were from farms, or were allowed to roam fairly freely.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We are particularly grateful to the various veterinary assistants who helped with the tick collections at the clinics. Stellenbosch University is thanked for financial support to S Matthee. Ronald Meyer provided logistical support. The participation of I G Horak in this project was partially funded by a grant from the National Research Foundation.

 

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Received: February 2010.
Accepted: May 2010.

 

 

* Author for correspondence. E-mail: ivan.horak@up.ac.za