Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) as a Source of Ectoparasites in Urban-suburban Areas of Northwest of Iran
AbstractBackground: Hedgehogs are small, nocturnal mammals which become popular in the world and have important role in transmission of zoonotic agents. Thus, the present study aimed to survey ectoparasite infestation from April 2010 to December 2011 in urban and suburban parts of Urmia and Tabriz Cities, Northwest of Iran.Methods: A total number of 84 hedgehogs (40 females and 44 males) were examined. They have been carefully inspected for ectoparasites and collected arthropods were stored in 70% ethanol solution. The identification of arthropods was carried out using morphological diagnostic keys.Results: The occurrence of ticks on hedgehogs was 23 (67.7%) with Rhipicephalus turanicus in Urmia and 11 (22%) as well as 1(2%) with Rh. turanicus and Hyalomma anatolicum anatolicum in Tabriz, respectively. One flea species, Archaeopsylla erinacei, was found with prevalence of 19 (55.9%) and 27 (54%) in Urmia and Tabriz Cities, respectively. Prevalence of infestation with Rh. turanicus and A. erinacei were not different (P> 0.05) between sexes of hedgehogs in two study areas. Highest prevalence of tick and flea infestation was in June in Urmia, whereas it was observed in August in Tabriz. Both tick and flea parasitizing hedgehogs showed seasonal difference in prevalence (P< 0.05) in Urmia, but it was not detected in Tabriz (P> 0.05).Conclusion: The result showed the high occurrence of ectoparasites in hedgehog population and according to the zoonotic potential of these animals as vector of some agents further studies are needed to investigate in different parts of Iran.
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