Risk perception, together with the adoption of measures to prevent tick bites, may strongly influence human exposure to ticks and transmitted pathogens. We created a questionnaire to evaluate how people perceive the health risk posed by ticks in an area recently invaded by these arthropods, in the western Italian Alps. Moreover, through a collaborative effort with park rangers and physicians, we investigated which tick species bite humans and their infection with pathogens (Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and spotted-fever group Rickettsiae). Apart from two Dermacentor marginatus bites, we identified Ixodes ricinus (n = 124) as the main species responsible for tick bites. The investigated pathogens infected 25.4% of tested I. ricinus. The evaluation of the engorgement rate of biting I. ricinus revealed that they had been likely feeding on humans for 24 hours or more, suggesting a high probability of pathogen transmission. Indeed, the questionnaires revealed that people infrequently adopt preventive measures, such as inspecting the body for ticks, although most respondents claimed that ticks are a threat to human health. Having suffered from previous tick bites was positively associated with the adoption of personal protection measures. Given the increasing incidence of tick-borne diseases in the region, the public should be better informed about the possibility of being bitten by infected ticks in order to mitigate the risk.

Low risk perception about ticks and tick-borne diseases in an area recently invaded by ticks in northwestern italy

Garcia Vozmediano A.
First
;
Giglio G.;Rossi L.;Tomassone L.
Last
2021

Abstract

Risk perception, together with the adoption of measures to prevent tick bites, may strongly influence human exposure to ticks and transmitted pathogens. We created a questionnaire to evaluate how people perceive the health risk posed by ticks in an area recently invaded by these arthropods, in the western Italian Alps. Moreover, through a collaborative effort with park rangers and physicians, we investigated which tick species bite humans and their infection with pathogens (Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and spotted-fever group Rickettsiae). Apart from two Dermacentor marginatus bites, we identified Ixodes ricinus (n = 124) as the main species responsible for tick bites. The investigated pathogens infected 25.4% of tested I. ricinus. The evaluation of the engorgement rate of biting I. ricinus revealed that they had been likely feeding on humans for 24 hours or more, suggesting a high probability of pathogen transmission. Indeed, the questionnaires revealed that people infrequently adopt preventive measures, such as inspecting the body for ticks, although most respondents claimed that ticks are a threat to human health. Having suffered from previous tick bites was positively associated with the adoption of personal protection measures. Given the increasing incidence of tick-borne diseases in the region, the public should be better informed about the possibility of being bitten by infected ticks in order to mitigate the risk.
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https://www.mdpi.com/2306-7381/8/7/131
Alpine area; Italy; Ixodes ricinus; Risk perception; Tick-borne pathogens
Garcia Vozmediano A.; Giglio G.; Ramassa E.; Nobili F.; Rossi L.; Tomassone L.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1796000
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