Ticks: Biology, Ecology, and Diseases: Chapter 13 - Controlling ticks and tick-borne disease transmission

Ticks: Biology, Ecology, and Diseases, 2023, Pages 193-215
Nicholas Johnson

For over 100 years, roughly the time period since the role of ticks as a source of infectious disease was recognized, attempts have been made to control the tick vector and tick-borne disease in cattle. The earliest method applied and still a popular option to this day has been to suppress ticks on the host through the widespread use of acaricides, chemical agents that target arthropods within the subclass Acari. Initial successes resulted in the elimination of certain species of Rhipicephalus from the United States. However, with the intensification of livestock farming around the world, overuse of acaricides has led to the emergence of resistance and greater awareness of the ecological impact this approach has on the wider invertebrate community. This approach has considerable disadvantages and has prompted the need for other means of controlling both tick infestation, which can have detrimental effects on livestock, and tick-borne pathogens of public and animal health. Underpinning any control effort is the need for extensive surveillance to understand the tick species responsible for pathogen transmission, their distribution, and the circumstances where transmission occurs. In addition, tick populations that are exposed to acaricides should ideally be surveyed for the emergence of acaricide resistance. Another key component for preventing tick-borne disease is the development of vaccines. For some pathogens such as tick-borne encephalitis virus, there is a highly effective vaccine that is widely available in regions where the disease occurs. However, for most tick-borne pathogens, there is still a need to develop cost-effective vaccines that will protect at-risk populations. This chapter will cover the range of approaches to the control of tick and tick-borne diseases.