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Merck Manual

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Fowl Ticks


James R. Philips

, PhD, Math/Science Division, Babson College

Last full review/revision Oct 2013 | Content last modified Oct 2013

The fowl tick, Argas persicus, is found worldwide in tropical and subtropical countries and is the vector of Borrelia anserina (avian spirochetosis, see Avian Spirochetosis) and the rickettsia Aegyptianella pullorum, which causes fowl disease (aegyptianellosis, see Aegyptianellosis in Poultry). In the USA, the Argas persicus complex has been divided to include A miniatus, A sanchezi, and A radiatus in addition to A persicus. These ticks are particularly active in poultry houses during warm, dry weather. All stages may be found hiding in cracks and crevices during the day. Larvae can be found on the birds, because they remain attached and feed for 2–7 days. Nymphs and adults feed at night for 15–30 min. Nymphs feed and molt several times before reaching the adult stage. Adults feed repeatedly, most commonly under the wings, and the females lay as many as 500 eggs after each feeding. Adult females may live >4 yr without a blood meal.

Fowl ticks produce anemia (most important), weight loss, depression, toxemia, and paralysis. Egg production decreases. Red spots can be seen on the skin where the ticks have fed. Because the ticks are nocturnal, the birds may show some uneasiness when roosting. Death is rare, but production may be severely depressed.

After houses are cleaned, walls, ceilings, cracks, and crevices should be treated thoroughly (using a high-pressure sprayer) with carbaryl, coumaphos, malathion, permethrin, stirofos, or a mixture of stirofos and dichlorvos. Cracks and crevices should be filled in.

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