Why Ticks Prefer Certain Spots on Cattle

Jim Crocker
8th April, 2024

Why Ticks Prefer Certain Spots on Cattle

Key Findings

  • In Ghana, cattle carry an average of 5.6 ticks, with higher infestations on the udder/scrotum
  • Two main tick species found were Amblyomma variegatum (43%) and Hyalomma rufipes (26%)
  • Older cattle (over 3 years) had more ticks than younger ones
Ticks are not just pesky bloodsuckers; they are also vectors for diseases that can affect both animals and humans. In regions like the tropics and subtropics, where these arthropods thrive, they can be a significant threat to livestock health and a burden to the economy due to the cost of managing tick-borne diseases. A recent study by the University of Ghana[1] has shed light on the extent of tick infestation in cattle and the factors that contribute to it, providing insights that could help in developing better control strategies. The study involved the examination of 388 cattle across five regions in Ghana. The researchers meticulously collected 2187 ticks from these animals and found that, on average, each cattle carried about 5.6 ticks. Interestingly, certain areas of the cattle's body were more prone to tick infestation, with the udder/scrotum area having a significantly higher tick burden than the anal region. This finding is crucial for improving targeted tick control measures. The tick species that were most commonly found on the cattle were Amblyomma variegatum, making up 42.6% of the total, and Hyalomma rufipes, which accounted for 26.2%. These species have different preferences for attachment sites on the cattle's body. A. variegatum was predominantly found on the udder/scrotum, while H. rufipes showed a preference for the anal region. The study also revealed that older cattle, generally more than 3 years of age, had a higher tick burden than younger ones. These findings align with previous research that has highlighted the role of ticks in spreading zoonotic diseases. For instance, earlier studies have detected the presence of Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever, in both ticks and camels[2], and in a high percentage of tick pools screened in Ghana[3][4]. These studies emphasize the importance of ticks as reservoirs for pathogens that can impact public health. The current study builds upon these earlier findings by providing a more detailed understanding of tick infestation patterns in livestock, which is crucial for controlling the spread of tick-borne diseases. By identifying the tick species and their preferred attachment sites, the research offers valuable information for the strategic application of acaricides – substances used to kill ticks. For example, knowing that A. variegatum frequently infests the udder/scrotum area suggests that special attention should be given to these parts during treatment. Additionally, the study's observation that older cattle are more likely to carry a higher number of ticks could influence how resources for tick control are allocated. Prioritizing older cattle for treatment could be a more efficient use of resources and a more effective strategy for reducing the overall tick burden. In conclusion, the research conducted by the University of Ghana provides a clearer picture of the tick infestation problem in cattle within the country. It highlights the need for targeted tick control practices that consider the species of ticks, their preferred attachment sites, and the age of the cattle. Such strategic approaches could help mitigate the economic losses caused by ticks and reduce the risk of zoonotic diseases, protecting both animal and human health.

EcologyAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Risk factors affecting the feeding site predilection of ticks on cattle in Ghana

Published 5th April, 2024


Related Studies

2) Molecular and immunological characterization of Hyalomma dromedarii and Hyalomma excavatum (Acari: Ixodidae) vectors of Q fever in camels.


3) Occurrence of Rickettsia spp. and Coxiella burnetii in ixodid ticks in Kassena-Nankana, Ghana.


4) Occurrence of Rickettsia spp. and Coxiella burnetii in ixodid ticks in Kassena-Nankana, Ghana.


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