Fares et al.
Tick borne encephalitis virus in Ixodes ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae) ticks, Tunisia
Ticks Tick Borne Dis. in press, doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2020.101606
Ixodes ricinus is not only distributed across Eurasia but can also be found in northwestern Africa. In Tunisia, this tick species lives in oak forests in humid to semi-humid microclimatic zones in the northwest.
Little is known about the presence of pathogens in I. ricinus from Tunisia. From November 2015 to February 2016, a total of 882 adult ticks have been collected by flagging and from grazing cattle in northwestern areas of Tunisia, of which 877 were identified as I. ricinus (no differentiation to I. inopinatus). In one out of 120 pools, TBE virus specific RNA could be detected by n-RT PCR. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that the Tunisian strain belongs to the European subtype but is phylogenetically distinct from European strains. The minimum infection rate of the ticks was 0.11%.
TBE virus specific genomic sequences have for the first time be identified in ticks collected in Africa.