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Ectoparasites of Microtus californicus and Possible Emergence of an Exotic Ixodes Species Tick in California

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By Amanda Poulsen et al.
 
Abstract
 
California voles (Microtus californicus Peale) harbor fleas and ticks, may be infected with vector-borne pathogens, and could themselves suffer from disease and serve as a source of infection for people and other animals. Here we summarize publications, museum archives, and recent records of ticks and fleas from California voles.
 
There have been 18 flea species reported on California voles with geographic locations reported for 13. During recent statewide surveys, we found six flea species, with the highest species richness in Humboldt County. We found three of five previously reported tick species as well as a tick resembling the eastern North American tick Ixodes minor Neumann (which we here designate Ixodes “Mojave morphotype”) on isolated Amargosa voles and Owens Valley voles (Microtus californicus vallicola Bailey) in Inyo County in 2012 and 2014. Additional incidental observations of this Mojave morphotype tick were on a western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis Baird) at the Mojave site and a montane vole (Microtus montanus Peale) in the Owens Valley, both in March, 2014.
 
We cannot rule out that this tick species has been present in remote areas of California but gone unrecognized, but these data are consistent with recent introduction of this tick, possibly from migrating birds. Changes in the ectoparasite fauna suggest changing ecologies of vectors and vector-borne pathogens that could influence animals and people as well.
 
Source: Amanda Poulsen, Chris Conroy, Patrick Foley, Caitlin Ott-Conn, Austin Roy, Richard Brown, Janet Foley. Ectoparasites of Microtus californicus and Possible Emergence of an Exotic Ixodes Species Tick in California. Journal of Medical Entomology, online first, June 23, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjv077

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