Rodent ectoparasites in the middle east: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Md Mazharul Islam*, Elmoubashar Farag, Khalid Eltom, Mohammad Mahmudul Hassan, Devendra Bansal, Francis Schaffner, Jolyon Medlock, Hamad Al-Romaihi, Zilungile Mkhize-Kwitshana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Rodents carry many ectoparasites, such as ticks, lice, fleas, and mites, which have potential public health importance. Middle Eastern countries are hotspots for many emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, such as plague, leishmaniasis, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, and Q fever, due to their ecological, socioeconomic, and political diversity. Rodent ectoparasites can act as vectors for many of these pathogens. Knowledge of rodent ectoparasites is of prime importance in controlling rodent ectoparasite-borne zoonotic diseases in this region. The current systematic review and meta-analysis performs a comprehensive synthesis of the available knowledge, providing an evidence-based overview of the ectoparasites detected on rodents in Middle Eastern countries. Following a systematic search in Pubmed, Scopus, and Web of Science, a total of 113 published articles on rodent ectoparasites were studied and analyzed. A total of 87 rodent species were documented, from which Mus musculus, Rattus norvegicus, and Rattus rattus were found to be the most common. Fleas were the most reported ectoparasites (87 articles), followed by mites (53), ticks (44), and lice (25). Xenopsylla cheopis, Polyplax spinulosa, Ornithonyssus bacoti, and Hyalomma rhipicephaloides were the most commonly described fleas, lice, mites, and ticks, respectively. Based on the reviewed articles, the median flea, louse, mite, and tick indices were highest in Israel (4.15), Egypt (1.39), Egypt (1.27), and Saudi Arabia (1.17), respectively. Quantitative meta-analysis, using a random-effects model, determined the overall pooled flea prevalence in the Middle East as 40% (95% CI: 25–55, I2 = 100%, p < 0.00001), ranging between 13% (95% CI: 0–30, I2 = 95%, p < 0.00001) in Iran and 59% (95% CI: 42–77, I2 = 75%, p < 0.00001) in Israel. The overall pooled louse prevalence was found to be 30% (95% CI: 13–47, I2 = 100%, p <0.00001), ranging between 25% in Iran (95% CI: 1–50, I2 = 99%) and 38% in Egypt (95% CI: 7–68, I2 = 100%). In the case of mites, the pooled prevalence in this region was 33% (95% CI: 11–55, I2 = 100%, p < 0.00001), where the country-specific prevalence estimates were 30% in Iran (95% CI: 4–56, I2 = 99%) and 32% in Egypt (95% CI: 0–76, I2 = 100%). For ticks, the overall prevalence was found to be 25% (95% CI: 2–47, I2 = 100%, p < 0.00001), ranging from 16% in Iran (95% CI: 7–25, I2 = 74%) to 42% in Egypt (95% CI: 1–85, I2 = 100%). The control of rodent ectoparasites should be considered to reduce their adverse effects. Using the One Health strategy, rodent control, and precisely control of the most common rodent species, i.e., Mus musculus, Rattus norvegicus, and Rattus rattus, should be considered to control the rodent-borne ectoparasites in this region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Ministry of Public Health, Qatar.


  • Ectoparasites
  • Fleas
  • Lice
  • Meta-analysis
  • Middle East
  • Mites
  • Rodents
  • Systematic review
  • Ticks


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