The potential role of migratory birds in the rapid spread of ticks and tick-borne pathogens in the changing climatic and environmental conditions in europe

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Buczek, Alicja M.
Buczek, Weronika
Buczek, Alicja
Bartosik, Katarzyna
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This opinion piece highlights the role of migratory birds in the spread of ticks and their role in the circulation and dissemination of pathogens in Europe. Birds with different lifestyles, i.e., non-migrants residing in a specific area, or short-, medium-, and long-distance migrants, migrating within one or several distant geographical regions are carriers of a number of ticks and tick-borne pathogens. During seasonal migrations, birds that cover long distances over a short time and stay temporarily in different habitats can introduce tick and pathogen species in areas where they have never occurred. An increase in the geographical range of ticks as well as the global climate changes affecting the pathogens, vectors, and their hosts increase the incidence and the spread of emerging tick-borne diseases worldwide. Tick infestations of birds varied between regions depends on the rhythms of tick seasonal activity and the bird migration rhythms determined by for example, climatic and environmental factors. In areas north of latitude ca. 58°N, immature Ixodes ricinus ticks are collected from birds most frequently, whereas ticks from the Hyalomma marginatum group dominate in areas below 42°N. We concluded that the prognosis of hazards posed by tick-borne pathogens should take into account changes in the migration of birds, hosts of many epidemiologically important tick species.