Ticks are unpleasant little critters in themselves. But they can also transmit bacteria that cause disease – notably bacteria from the Borrelia family which cause a range of relapsing fevers including Lyme disease.
Now scientists from Murdoch University have detected a new species of Borrelia bacteria in ticks that bite echidnas. Fortunately, it seems that these ticks don’t bite humans.
Scientists don’t know at this stage whether this new bacterium can cause disease or if it can be transmitted by ticks, so further research is needed. Ticks transmit the most diverse range of animal-to-human pathogens of any insect – a major concern to the health and wellbeing of humans, wildlife, livestock and companion animals.
That’s why Murdoch University’s Vector & Water-borne Pathogen Research Group is looking at bacteria in native ticks and their wildlife hosts. By looking at the wildlife they can start piece together a view of what could cause illness in humans.
Identifying potential threats to human and animal health is an important field of study. And it’s another reason why continued funding for our universities is essential if we are to keep Australia clever.
For further reading please visit Murdoch University