Detection of Babesia species in questing Ixodes ricinus ticks in England and Wales

Sara Gandy, Jolyon Medlock, Benjamin Cull, Rob Smith, Zoë Gibney, Sanam Sewgobind, Insiyah Parekh, Sophie Harding, Nicholas Johnson, Kayleigh Hansford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Babesiosis, a disease in humans and animals is caused by piroplasms from the genus Babesia and is transmitted by ixodid ticks. Bovine babesiosis, commonly called redwater fever, is reported in cattle from many regions of the British Isles. The presence of Babesia in questing ticks in the United Kingdom (UK) and its potential impact on public and animal health has not been widely studied. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the presence of Babesia spp. in England and Wales using ticks collected over a six-year period. Questing Ixodes ricinus nymphs were collected at 20 recreational areas between 2014 and 2019 and screened for Babesia. Of 3912 nymphs tested, Babesia spp. were detected in 15, giving an overall prevalence of 0.38% [95%CI: 0.21–0.63%]. A number of Babesia species were identified including B. venatorum (n = 9), B. divergens/capreoli (n = 5) and B. odocoilei-like species (n = 1). Based on the low prevalence of Babesia detected in questing I. ricinus nymphs in the recreational areas studied, the likelihood of exposure to Babesia-infected ticks is lower compared to other pathogens more widely studied in the UK (e.g. Borrelia burgdorferi s.l.). However, localized areas of elevated risk may occur in pockets in England and Wales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102291
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • Babesiosis
  • Piroplasms
  • Red-water fever

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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