27 November 2012

Namibia: Caprivi Ticks a Seasonal Occurrence

Windhoek — Fears were put to rest about the possible consequences of an ever-increasing presence of ticks, especially in the Caprivi and Kavango regions, with the state veterinarian at Katima Mulilo saying the presence of ticks in the area is quite normal around this time of the year.

Several inhabitants of the extreme north-eastern areas have been reporting an apparent dramatic increase in the presence of ticks. "With the rainy season about to start, the air is filled with moisture in these areas, but it is still very hot and humid and these are the perfect breeding conditions for ticks.

"We experience these increases every year, and for now there should not be any concern. Animals and pets should be dipped if there is concern, but we at the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) monitor these kinds of situations and what is happening right now is a annual occurrence," state veterinarian Dr Frank Chitate told New Era on Tuesday.

Ticks are excellent vectors for disease transmission and consequently, tick-born diseases are common. More than 800 species of these obligate blood-sucking creatures inhabit the planet.

They are said to be second only to mosquitoes as vectors of human disease, both infectious and toxic.

Ticks can carry and transmit a remarkable array of pathogens, including bacteria, spirochetes, rickettsiae, protozoa, viruses and toxins.

A single tick bite can transmit multiple pathogens, a phenomenon that has led to a typical presentation of some classic tick-borne diseases.

Ticks feed by perching in low vegetation and waiting for a susceptible host on which they can attach themselves and feed. Once on a host, a tick inserts its hypostome, a central piercing element with hooks, into the skin of the host.

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