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Amblyomma variegatum in cattle in Marie Galante, French Antilles : Prevalence, control measures, and infection by Ehrlichia ruminantium

Molia S., Frebling M., Vachiery N., Pinarello V., Petitclerc F., Rousteau A., Martinez D., Lefrançois T.. 2008. Veterinary Parasitology, 153 (3-4) : p. 338-346.

DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2008.01.046

We report Marie Galante as one of the Caribbean islands most heavily infested by the tropical bont tick (TBT) Amblyomma variegatum which is associated with two major diseases of ruminants: heartwater and dermatophilosis. In 2005, a survey was undertaken to assess the prevalence of TBT infestation in cattle, the prevalence of Ehrlichia ruminantium infection in TBTs, and the tick control measures implemented by livestock owners. A random sample of 195 cattle herds out of 1885 recorded on the island was investigated by thoroughly counting adult ticks on each animal and filling a questionnaire. A randomly collected sample of 136 TBTs was tested for infection by E. ruminantium by pCS20 nested PCR. Cattle herd prevalence (hp) was 73.8% for infestation by at least one TBT, 17.9% for infestation by at least one engorged female TBT, and 8.2% for clinical dermatophilosis. Cattle individual prevalence was 42.3% for infestation by at least one TBT, 6.6% for infestation by at least one engorged female TBT, and 2.2% for clinical dermatophilosis. The minimum, maximum and average numbers of TBTs per infested animal were, respectively 1, 108 and 11.5. Prevalence of TBT infection by E. ruminantium was 19.1%. No significant difference in herd prevalence was found among parishes or among ecological zones. For cattle owners treating against ticks (97.9% of all owners), all used aspersion of amitraz and herd prevalence was significantly different among those treating every 1-2-week (hp = 69.6%, n = 148), and less often than every 2-week (hp = 88.6%, n = 35) (P = 0.031). Of the 42 herd subunits treated less than 4 days before the survey, 27 (64%) were infested with at least one TBT, and 6 (14%) with at least one engorged female TBT. These results indicate a high level of TBT infestation in Marie Galante, the inefficacy of tick treatments currently performed, and the need for an improved tick control strategy. Persisting high levels of infestation in Marie Galante threaten the success of on-going TBT eradication programs in the Caribbean because TBT can spread through migrating birds and trade of animals or of animal hides to other islands and potentially the American continent.

Mots-clés : amblyomma variegatum; ehrlichia; ehrlichia ruminantium; bétail; Épidémiologie; morbidité; caraïbes; antilles françaises; france

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