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Tick statistics are impressive. Some 907 tick species have been named. Their only food is blood, of which some ticks consume relatively vast quantities (several hundred times their unfed body weight). Some take 2 weeks or more to feed. Often they only feed three times during the whole of their life cycle (which may take 7 years to complete). They feed on mammals (including humans), birds and reptiles. Their geographical distribution ranges from sub-arctic through equatorial to antarctic regions, and habitats range from desert to rainforest. They even survive submersion in seawater as they feed on seabirds diving for fish. But the most important tick statistics concern their ability to transmit pathogens (disease-causing agents). And our greatest challenge is to devise efficient and effective means of controlling ticks and tick-borne pathogens.
Ticks transmit a great variety of disease-causing agents to humans (viral, bacterial and protozoal), including bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the reports of which increase in number year on year. About 80% of the world's cattle are infested with ticks. As a result, ticks are the most economically important ectoparasite of livestock. The impact of ticks on livestock producers in the developing world is a contributing factor to poverty.
In this book we have brought together experts from the tick world to express their views on the key advances in tick biology, diseases and control. Tick systematics and evolution highlight fundamental changes in our understanding, particularly for hard (ixodid) ticks, their life cycles and historical zoogeography (Barker & Murrell).
Widespread and increasing resistance to most available acaracides threatens both global livestock industries and public health. This necessitates better understanding of ticks and the diseases they transmit in the development of new control strategies. Ticks: Biology, Disease and Control is written by an international collection of experts and covers in-depth information on aspects of the biology of the ticks themselves, various veterinary and medical tick-borne pathogens, and aspects of traditional and potential new control methods. A valuable resource for graduate students, academic researchers and professionals, the book covers the whole gamut of ticks and tick-borne diseases from microsatellites to satellite imagery and from exploiting tick saliva for therapeutic drugs to developing drugs to control tick populations. It encompasses the variety of interconnected fields impinging on the economically important and biologically fascinating phenomenon of ticks, the diseases they transmit and methods of their control.