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Black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) on the jaguar (Panthera onca).

Ixodes (Acari: ixodidae) is the most diverse genus of ticks, comprising 243 species of obligate haematophagous ectoparasites of terrestrial vertebrates (Guzman-Cornejo et al., 2007). Although the genus is highly prevalent in North America, only 26 species are recognized for Mexico (Guzman-Cornejo et al., 2007). In addition, parasite-host associations are scarcely known for this genus in Mexico. Only 0.5% of the 1,050 species of birds and 5% of the 452 species of terrestrial mammals in Mexico have been recorded as hosts of Ixodes, likely representing an underestimate of the real number of hosts (Guzman-Cornejo et al., 2007). Several species of Ixodes are vectors of zoonotic diseases and are the focus of many medical and veterinary studies (Sonenshine et al., 2002). In the United States, the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis)is the main vector of the spirochaete Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the etiologic agent of Lyme disease, a tick-borne zoonosis that is worldwide (Estrada-Pefia and Jongejan, 1999). It also is the vector of Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia microti, causative agents of human anaplasmosis and babesiosis, respectively (Estrada-Pefia and Jongejan, 1999).

On 8 March 2008, a female jaguar (Panthera onca) was captured on a ranch inside Reserva de Biosfera de El Cielo, Tamaulipas, Mexico (23[degrees]03'42"N, 99[degrees]12' 18"W). The jaguar was seized and transported by wildlife authorities to Tamatan Zoo (Zoologico de Tamatan) in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, for clinical examination. The individual was quarantined and examined within hours of arrival at the zoo. We detected and collected several ticks from the jaguar: five semi-engorged females, two engorged females, and two males. With the aid of a light microscope, ticks were identified using keys in Strickland (1976) and Guzman-Cornejo and Robbins (2010). Six ticks corresponded to Amblyomma cajennense, while three partially engorged females were identified as I. scapularis. These three I. scapularis were deposited in the Coleccion Nacional de Acaros, Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (CNAC 006803-006805) in Mexico City. Amblyomma cajennense parasitizes domestic and wild animals in Mexico and it is distributed throughout most Latin American countries (Estrada-Pefia et al., 2004). In Mexico, I. scapularis has been reported in cattle, dogs, brocket deer (Mazama americana), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and eastern cottontails (Sylvylagus floridanus; Guzman-Cornejo et al., 2007; Guzman-Cornejo and Robbins, 2010). Knowledge about distribution and host-parasite associations of Ixodes in Mexico is scarce, with records of I. scapularis available only for the states of Chiapas, Coahuila, Jalisco, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, and Tamaulipas (Guzman-Cornejo and Robbins, 2010). Ours is the first record of I. scapularis in wild felids from Mexico and the first record of the jaguar as a host.

We hypothesize that scarcity of records of this ectoparasite likely is due to lack of studies addressing its presence in Mexico. Additionally, records of occurrence of large endangered mammals are mostly from dead animals, and thus, ectoparasites usually are not collected or are absent from these specimens. Jaguars are rare, and I. scapularis on this large mammal indicates possible widespread presence on more common species of mammals because these ticks are generalists in feeding habits. our suggestion is supported by the fact that this tick also is present on several species of birds at Reserva de Biosfera de El Cielo (C. Almazan, unpublished data). Thus, it is highly probable that I. scapularis is established at Reserva de Biosfera de El Cielo and multiple mammalian and avian species serve as hosts. There is a high diversity of small mammals at Reserva de Biosfera de El Cielo (3 soricomorphs and 26 rodents; Vargas-Contreras and Hernandez-Huerta, 2001), including four species of deermice (Peromyscus), which are potential hosts for immature stages of I. scapularis. For instance, the white-footed deermouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is the main host for immature stages of this tick and also the main reservoir of B. burgdorferi in the northeastern united States (Ostfeld, 2011). Thus, conditions at Reserva de Biosfera de El Cielo are conducive to completion of the life cycle of I. scapularis and to sustain B. burgdorferi, which has been demonstrated by serologic evidence to be present in Tamaulipas (Gordillo et al., 1999).

The jaguar is listed internationally as endangered, including in Mexico (Ceballos and Oliva, 2005). Although fragmentation of habitats and illegal hunting are considered to be the main threats to jaguars, diseases are increasingly a concern for conservation of endangered carnivores (Murray et al., 1999; Furtado and Fioloni, 2008). Ticks are vectors of multiple diseases of viral, bacterial, or protozoan origin (Piesman and Eisen, 2008), but baseline information about distribution and host associations of ticks is lacking. Serological surveys and documentation of occurrences of ticks on mammalian and avian faunas in Mexico are required to evaluate potential exposure of these faunas to tick-borne etiologic agents.

We thank S. Presley for useful comments that enhanced the manuscript and G. Montiel for help in depositing our specimens at the Coleccion Nacional de Acaros, Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Autonoma de Mexico. We also thank personnel of the university of Connecticut for access to bibliographic materials.

Submitted 10 June 2011. Accepted 11 May 2012. Associate Editor was Celia Lopez-Gonzalez.

Literature Cited

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Vargas-Contreras, J. A., and A. Hernandez-Huerta. 2001. Distribucion altitudinal de la mastofauna en la reserva de la Biosfera "El Cielo," Tamaulipas, Mexico. Acta Zoologica Mexicana 82:83-109.

Consuelo Almazan, Ivan Castro-Arellano, * and Eduardo Camacho-Puga

Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas, Km 5 carretera Victoria-Mante, Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, 87000, Mexico (CA)

Department of Biology, Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, TX 78666 (ICA) Hospital Veterinario, Zoologico Tamataan, Calzada General Luis Caballero s/n Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, 87060, Mexico (ECP)

* Correspondent:
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Author:Almazan, Consuelo; Castro-Arellano, Ivan; Camacho-Puga, Eduardo
Publication:Southwestern Naturalist
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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