Epifaunistic arthropod parasites of the four-striped mouse, Rhabdomys pumilio, in the Western Cape Province, South Africa

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2007
Authors:S. Matthee, Horak, I. G., Beaucournu, J. - C., Durden, L. A., Ueckermann, E. A., McGeoch, M. A.
Journal:Journal of Parasitology
Pagination:47 - 59
Date Published:2007
Keywords:fauna, Survey

Flea, lice, mite, and tick species associated with 510 Rhabdomys pumilio were collected at 9 localities in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. The aims of the study were first to quantify the species richness, prevalence, and relative mean intensity of infestation of epifaunistic arthropod species associated with R. pumilio, and second to determine temporal variations in the mean abundance of the parasitic arthropods. Each mouse was examined under a stereoscopic microscope and its parasites were removed, identified, and quantified. The epifaunal population was made up of more than 25,000 individuals and included 8 flea, 1 sucking louse, 11 mite, and 13 ixodid tick species. Female-biased sex ratios were noted for 9 (30%) of the ectoparasite species. Three undescribed mite and 1 undescribed tick species were recovered, and new locality records for 2 flea, the louse, and 2 mite species were documented. A phoretic host association between a nonparasitic mite species, Psylloglyphus uilenbergi kivuensis, and 3 flea species, Chiastopsylla rossi, Hypsophthalmus temporis, and Listropsylla agrippinae, was recorded. The mean abundance of the parasitic mite and insect species were higher during the cold wet season, whereas ticks were more numerous during the warm dry months. The large number of ectoparasite species on R. pumilio, a locally abundant and regionally widespread species, is of medical and veterinary importance particularly in relation to the transmission of pathogens such as Anaplasma marginale, Babesia caballi, and Babesia canis to domestic animals; Rickettsia conori; Yersinia pestis; and the viral disease Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever to humans.

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