Biodiversity of species of hard ticks (Family Ixodidae) infesting water buffaloes and cattle raised in six study sites in Bulacan, and the association of tick presence with detection babesiosis


College of Science



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Hard ticks (Family Ixodidae) are obligate hematophagous ectoparasites largely of mammals. Worldwide, focus has been on about 80 different species of medical and veterinary importance, either due to their own pathogenesis or because of the pathogen/parasites they transmit. Ticks are epidemiologically and clinically important, considering that all developmental stages can cause anemia, dermatosis, paralysis, otocariasis, and can transmit viral, bacterial, rickettsial and protozoa like Babesia to susceptible host. In asia, bovine and bubaline babesiosis is widespread, and in communities co-inhabiting with livestock and wild animals infested with ticks, human cases of tick-transmitted babesiosis exist.

In developing countries like the Philippine, livestock industry makes-up an important economic source in the rural population and is a target for agribusiness in the dairy, meat and processed food sector. With tick infestation, livestock production and their productivity can be greatly hindered owing to a whole range of pathogenesis ticks cause alongside transmission of devastating and often virulent agents of diseases. Altogether, these result to loss of income attributed to decrease in meat and milk production, poor growth, mortality, and indirect losses attributed to the high cost in controlling diseases.

There is clearly a dearth of information, much more so of documented studies on tick species diversity and distribution in the country. The first report of ticks relied basically on small collections sent to Europe for identification. Ticks are abundant in pasture with dense vegetation with their population dynamics directly correlated with high temperature, low humidity and less rainfall. Of the few species of ticks reported infesting livestock, Boophilus microplus is considered the most common and economically important, with infestation often associated with transmission of Babesia parasites. Philippine reptiles are susceptible to infestation with Amblyomma helvolum. Stray dogs are predominantly infested with Rhipicephalus ticks. Blood samples obtained from slaughtered and racing horses and examined serologically tested positive for anti Babesis caballi and/or anti-Babesi equi antibodies, and this was confirmed by the presence of parasites in blood film. Interestingly, these horses were negative of ticks.

Although our earlier attempts to document tick infestation and infection with Babesia in horses and stray dogs had been cursory, the findings nonetheless clearly suggest the need to expand the study to livestock such as, the water buffaloes and cattle that constitute one of the principal sources, if not the bedrock of income generation of the marginalized rural sector. The unawareness of the farmers of the susceptibility of farm animals to pathogenesis and transmission of hematophagous infections attributable to the blood feeding activity of the ixodid ticks greatly deprive them of a sustained source of income and food. More than having to help out farmers in economic terms, the information with regard to tick infestation and babesiosis is imperative in the development of rational strategies to mitigate problems owing to ticks and control of disease transmission as well as, in the improvement od far, practices and management locally, that should ultimately translate to the protection of communities from the potential risk of exposure to the parasitic agent(s) themselves. Also, the baseline information would be valuable inputs for future “predictive spatial modeling” approaches to develop disease risk maps, specifically in the country where surveillance of the hematophagus ticks and their risk of transmitting diseases, is limited or even non-existent to this day.

The study proposes to create a database of the biodiversity of species of hard ticks infesting water buffaloes and cattle in six selected study areas in Bulacan which are known for farming, poultry and small and large livestock production and raising, and food processing as their major industries. It also aims to analyze the findings on tick infestation vis-a-vis detection of babesiosis.





Research project proposal


Ixodidae—Philippines—Bulacan; Tick-borne diseases in animals—Philippines—Bulacan; Babesiosis—Philippines—Bulacan

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