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The ability for public/veterinary health agencies to assess the risks posed by tick-borne pathogens is reliant on an understanding of the main tick vector species. Crucially, the status, distribution, and changing trends in tick distribution and abundance are implicit requirements of any risk assessment; however, this is contingent on the quality of tick distribution data. Since 2005 the Health Protection Agency has promoted an enhanced tick surveillance program. Through engagement with a variety of public and veterinary health agencies and practitioners (e.g., clinicians and veterinarians), wildlife groups (deer society, zoos, animal refuge centers, and academics), and amateur entomologists, >4000 ticks from 900 separate records across Great Britain have been submitted, representing 14 tick species (Ixodes ricinus, Ixodes hexagonus, Ixodes acuminatus, Ixodes arboricola, Ixodes canisuga, Ixodes frontalis, Ixodes lividus, Ixodes trianguliceps, Ixodes ventalloi, Carios vespertilionis, Dermacentor reticulatus, Haemaphysalis punctata, Hyalomma marginatum, and Amblyomma species). The majority of ticks submitted were I. ricinus (81%), followed by I. hexagonus (10%) and I. frontalis (2.5%). Predominant host groups include companion animals (411 records), humans (198 records), wild birds (111 records), and large wild mammals (88 records), with records also from small/medium wild mammals, livestock, the environment and domestic/aviary birds. The scheme has elucidated the detection of two nonnative tick species, the expansion of previously geographically restricted D. reticulatus and produced ground data on the spread of I. ricinus in southwest England. It has also provided a forum for submission of ticks from the concerned public and particularly those infected with
Lyme borreliosis, thus raising awareness among public health agencies of the increased peri-urban tick problem in Britain. Our results demonstrate that it is possible to run a cost-effective nationwide surveillance program to successfully monitor endemic tick species, identify subtle changes in their distribution, and detect the arrival and presence of exotic species.