Surveillance of British ticks: An overview of species records, host associations, and new records of Ixodes ricinus distribution

Benjamin Cull*, Maaike E. Pietzsch, Kayleigh Hansford, Emma L. Gillingham, Jolyon Medlock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Public Health England's passive Tick Surveillance Scheme (TSS) records the distribution, seasonality and host associations of ticks submitted from across the United Kingdom (UK), and helps to inform the UK government on emerging tick-borne disease risks. Here we summarise data collected through surveillance during 2010–2016, and compare with previous TSS data from 2005 to 2009, particularly in relation to the primary Lyme borreliosis vector Ixodes ricinus. 4173 records were submitted, constituting >14,000 ticks; 97% were endemic tick records (13,833 ticks of 11 species), with an additional 97 records of imported ticks (438 ticks of 17 species). Tick submissions were mainly from veterinary professionals (n = 1954; 46.8%) and members of the public and amateur entomologists (n = 1600; 38.3%), as well as from academic institutions (n = 249; 6.0%), wildlife groups (n = 239; 5.7%) and health professionals (n = 131; 3.1%). The most commonly reported hosts of endemic ticks were dogs (n = 1593; 39.1% of all records), humans (n = 835; 20.5%) and cats (n = 569; 14%). New host associations were recorded for a number of tick species. Ixodes ricinus was the most frequently recorded endemic tick species (n = 2413; 59.2% of all records), followed by I. hexagonus (n = 1355; 33.2%), I. canisuga (n = 132; 3.2%) and I. frontalis (n = 56; 1.4%), with other species each making up <1% total records. 81% of I. ricinus recorded from humans were nymphs, whereas 93.4% of I. ricinus from companion animals were adults. Recent TSS records of I. ricinus in the UK add a considerable amount of new presence data for this species, particularly in the southern regions of England, and confirm that this species is widespread across the UK. The scheme remains a valuable method of collecting continuous national distribution data on ticks from a variety of host species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-614
Number of pages10
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper describes surveillance work supported by Public Health England’s core funding.

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the continued support from members of the public, wildlife charities, universities, and veterinary and health professionals who have submitted ticks to the scheme. Without these contributions, the scheme would not exist and we would not have the valuable insight into tick distributions and activity that further our understanding of ticks. We also acknowledge the support and guidance provided by the Biological Records Centre, from supporting the creation of the recording scheme and its evolution into PHE’s Tick Surveillance Scheme, to continued assistance in making this data available to the wider research community via the NBN atlas. Thanks also to the Geographical Information Services team at PHE (Matthew Bull, Peter Payne, James Lewis, Francis Senyah), who developed and maintained the software to run the scheme and assisted with the production of mapping outputs, as well as Professor Steve Leach for his valuable comments on the manuscript. J. Medlock is partly funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Environmental Change and Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), and in collaboration with the University of Exeter, University College London, and the Met Office; and partly funded by the NIHR HPRU in Emerging Infections and Zoonoses at the University of Liverpool in partnership with PHE and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the NIHR, the Department of Health, or PHE. Appendix A


  • Distribution
  • Endemic
  • Imported
  • Ixodes ricinus
  • Surveillance
  • Tick
  • United Kingdom


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