MSD Manual

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Argas spp

By

Michael L. Levin

, PhD, Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Last full review/revision Aug 2020 | Content last modified Sep 2020

Most of the 57 known Argas spp are specific for birds or bats; a few parasitize wild terrestrial mammals or Galapagos giant tortoises. A persicus (the fowl or poultry tick) is an important poultry pest worldwide in warm climates. A persicus thrives in poultry houses and chicken coops. Heavy infestations and frequent bites of this tick can lead to secondary infections, anemia, weakness, and weight loss in birds. A persicus are most active during warm, dry weather. The adults and nymphs feed at night and hide in cracks, crevices, or under debris during the day; larvae remain attached to birds for 2–7 days. Likewise, A reflexus can cause severe blood loss in pigeons. A miniatus (the South American chicken tick) and A radiatus (the North American bird tick) can present a problem for traditional or outdoor poultry operations from the Caribbean to Central America and from the Caribbean to North America, respectively. The species of importance in transmitting Aegyptianella pullorum and Borrelia anserina to poultry are A persicus (many tropical and subtropical areas of the world), A arboreus (much of Africa, including Egypt), A africolumbae (tropical Africa), A walkerae (southern Africa), and A miniatus (South and Central America). Other species that infest poultry appear to transmit both A pullorum and B anserina. (Also see Fowl Ticks.) Tick paralysis is caused by feeding A persicus, A arboreus, A walkerae, A miniatus, A radiatus, and A sanchezi (USA). These and other Argas spp can cause great irritation when feeding on people.

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