Distribution and biology of Ornithodoros erraticus in parts of Spain affected by African swine fever
Ornithodoros erraticus was found in 30.7 per cent, 35.0 per cent and 71.0 per cent of the pig-pens sampled in the provinces of Salamanca, Badajoz and Huelva in which African swine fever is a problem in the rearing of Iberian pigs. Between 38 and 65 per cent of the pig-pens in these areas are now abandoned and their populations of O erraticus are extinct or becoming so because they can no longer feed on pigs, which in Spain are their main hosts. The abandonment of pig-pens has resulted in the elimination of most soft ticks infected with the virus of African swine fever, and means that the distribution of ticks is now irregular and focal. Another factor affecting their distribution is the kind of soil on which the pig-pens are located. In abandoned pig-pens, the adults and large nymphs survive for about five years or longer when animals occasionally enter them. Hungry tick populations may transmit African swine fever when feeding in winter, whereas the populations that have continuous access to pigs do not feed until the pig-pens reach a temperature of 13 to 15 degrees C. In the latter populations, each stage exhibits a single annual peak of activity, which implies that the development from larva to adult takes two to three years. Pigs may die as a result of the bites, but on no occasion were 100 per cent of the fasting ticks seen to feed, even though they had the opportunity of doing so. This may hinder the eradication of this soft tick from infested pig-pens.
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