Scrub typhus is a lethal human disease transmitted by larval trombiculid mites (i.e., chiggers) that have been infected with the rickettsia Orientia tsutsugamushi. In total, 21 chigger species are known from Taiwan. We update the checklist of chiggers of Taiwan based on an intensive survey of shrew and rodent hosts in grasslands and agricultural fields in lowland Taiwan, coupled with surveys of forests in one mountainous site and an opportunistic examination of submitted host specimens. Three new species of chiggers, Gahrliepia (Gateria) lieni sp. n., Gahrliepia (Gateria) minuta sp. n., and Gahrliepia (Gateria) yilanensis sp. n., as well as 23 newly recorded chigger species, were discovered. Accordingly, recorded chigger species of Taiwan more than doubled from 21 to 47 species. Two new species and nine newly recorded chigger species were discovered in forests in one mountainous site in northeastern Taiwan, suggesting that many more chigger species may be uncovered, particularly in mountainous Taiwan. Further studies should also investigate O. tsutsugamushi infection in different chigger species to assess its risks to human health.
Chigger mites of Thailand were studied on the basis of larvae collected from 19 small mammal species (17 species of Rodentia, 1 species of Erinaceomorpha, and 1 species of Scandentia) and revision of published data. Samples of 38 trombiculid species were collected from 11 provinces. Three new species were described: Trombiculindus kosapani sp. nov., Helenicula naresuani sp. nov., and Walchia chavali sp. nov. Ten species were recorded in Thailand for the first time: Leptotrombidium sialkotense Vercammen-Grandjean and Langston, 1976; Leptotrombidium subangulare Wen and Xiang, 1984; Leptotrombidium tenompaki Stekolnikov, 2013; Leptotrombidium turdicola Vercammen-Grandjean and Langston, 1976; Leptotrombidium yunlingense Yu, Yang, Zhang and Hu, 1981; Lorillatum hekouensis Yu, Chen and Lin, 1996; Helenicula pilosa (Abonnenc and Taufflieb, 1957); Gahrliepia xiaowoi Wen and Xiang, 1984; Walchia minuscuta Chen, 1978; and Walchia ventralis (Womersley, 1952). In all, 99 chigger mite species were considered; the presence of 93 species was established in Thailand by original data or properly documented records in the scientific literature. Evidence for 64 species records of 147 from a previous checklist of Thai chiggers (Tanskul 1993) remains unknown. Distribution of chigger species by geographical regions of Thailand is discussed.
Diversity of chigger mites causing trombiculiasis of domestic animals and humans in Europe is greatly underestimated. A number of reports on the attacks of “harvest mite” (Neotrombicula autumnalis) could be based on misidentified chiggers from other species and genera. In this study descriptions of two cases of trombiculiasis are presented, which constitute the first report on the pets' parasitism by the chigger genus Ericotrombidium in Europe. The species Ericotrombidium ibericense is for the first time reported in Portugal as a causative agent of the trombiculiasis entailed extensive alopecic lesions and pruritus in a cat. Ericotrombidium geloti is for the first time reported as a cause of canine trombiculiasis in Crimea. Presence of other Ericotrombidium species on man and domestic animals is highly probable in countries of the Mediterranean basin.
Conventional gold standard characterization of chigger mites involves chemical preparation procedures (i.e. specimen clearing) for visualization of morphological features, which however contributes to destruction of the arthropod host DNA and any endosymbiont or pathogen DNA harbored within the specimen.
From a previous field investigation in Yunnan, southwest China between 2001 and 2015, we selected two types of landscapes to make a retrospectively comparative study on the distribution of small mammals and their ectoparasitic chigger mites. One landscape is “mountainous uncultivated land (MUL)” with higher biodiversity, which is located in a famous “World Nature Heritage Site”, the Three-Parallel-Rivers Region in the northwest of Yunnan. The other is “cultivated flatland landscape (CFL)” with lower biodiversity, which is located in the south of Yunnan. The landscapes with different biodiversity apparently influenced the distribution of small mammals and their ectoparasitic chigger mites. Much more species of small mammals and mites were found in MUL than in CFL. A total of 3,177 small mammals captured from MUL were identified as 55 species, 30 genera and 10 families in five orders. From these small mammal hosts, 5,882 chigger mites were collected and identified as 127 species, 15 genera and 3 subfamilies in two families. A total of 1,112 small mammals captured from CFL were identified as 19 species, 12 genera and 5 families in three orders. From these hosts, 17,742 chiggers were collected and identified as 86 species, 12 genera and 3 subfamilies in two families. Both the species diversity (S = 55) and community diversity (H = 2.673) of small mammals in MUL were much higher than those in CFL (S = 19; H = 0.926). There were also higher values of β diversity in MUL than in CFL. Different main reservoir rodent hosts of zoonoses (including tsutsugamushi disease) were found in two types of landscapes. Rattus tanezumi (one main reservoir host) was most abundant in CFL, which accounted for 80.22% of all the small mammals. Another two main reservoir hosts, Eothenomys miletus and Apodemus chevrieri were the dominant species in MUL, but they were not as abundant as R. tanezumi in CFL. Different vector species of chigger mites also existed in MUL and CFL. Leptotrombidium deliense (a main and powerful vector of tsutsugamushi disease in China) and Ascoschoengastia indica (a potential vector of tsutsugamushi disease) were the dominant species of chigger mites in CFL (Cr = 25.81% for A. indica; Cr = 23.47% for L. deliense). Leptotrombidium scutellare (also a main vector of tsutsugamushi disease in China) was the dominant chigger species in MUL (Cr = 26.09%). Higher infestation of vector mites on small mammals was found in the simple landscape with lower biodiversity (CFL) than in the complex landscape with higher biodiversity (MUL). The overall prevalence (P), mean abundance (MA) and mean intensity (MI) of chigger mites on small mammals were much higher in CFL than in MUL. The main vector mite species on their main rodent hosts also showed a higher P, MA and MI in CFL than in MUL.
Stylostomes (feeding tubes) of Hirsutiella zachvatkini (Schluger) (Trombiculidae), feeding on bank voles [Myodes glareolus (Schreber)], and of Trombidium holosericeum (L.) (Trombidiidae), feeding on larvae of Stenodemini sp. (Heteroptera, Miridae), were studied by TEM methods and on semi-thin sections. The stylostome of H. zachvatkini is a homogeneous structure of low electron density and without strict margins. It extends within the concave host epidermis, undergoing hyperplasia and hyperkeratosis. TEM does not reveal any obvious stratification in the stylostome walls. The cheliceral movable digits are moved apart by 5-6 µm and tightly applied/adhered to the stylostome substance. A local area beneath the open end of the stylostome canal is not empty but contains a nearly homogeneous substrate, which can pass into the central stylostome canal. The latter is mostly free of contents. In contrast to H. zachvatkini, larvae of T. holosericeum form a root-like stylostome chaotically branching within the clear space underneath the host cuticle free of tissue elements. Tubules of the distal stylostome branches become progressively thinner and disappear blindly. As in H. zachvatkini, the stylostome walls of T. holosericeum are devoid of stratification but show moderate to high electron density. The cheliceral movable digits are moved apart by the same distance, as in H. zachvatkini, and tightly applied to the stylostome substance. The lumen of the central canal is either electron lucent, in the distal portions, or filled with a fine granular or homogeneous substrate of low electron density in the proximal portions forming a type of ampoule. This study shows that Trombiculidae and Trombidiidae share similar initial stages of stylostome formation but the resultant stylostome of each family is distinctly different.
Trombiculiasis is an infestation caused by larval mites (chiggers) of the family Trombiculidae. Here, we provide the first report on parasitism by the chigger species Eutrombicula alfreddugesi (Oudemans) and Eutrombicula batatas (Linnaeus) in goats and humans on farms in the state of Maranhão, northeastern Brazil. Severe itching and dermatitis caused by the chiggers' bites were seen. From a total of 779 examined goats, 214 of them showed clinical signs of infestation, as well as family members of three farms of the region. Most of the cases occurred during the rainy season, from March to September.
Trombiculiasis represents a striking emerging infestation in humans. In fact, modified lifestyles and easy and quick traveling around the globe, together with the altered ecology and habits of the parasite Neotrombicula autumnalis, make this original epizoonosis an extraordinary example of synanthropic dermatosis. We present an additional clinical image of this unusual parasite transmission from animals to humans occurring in a trekker in Calabria, Italy.
The chigger mite genus Blankaartia includes 28 known species, of which 10 are distributed in the Nearctic and Neotropical regions. These species preferentially parasitize birds, but occasionally they can also be found on rodents, bats, and reptiles, showing low host selectivity. In the present study, we report the presence of this genus in Brazil for the first time, including the first report of Blankaartia sinnamaryi (Floch and Fauran) and the description of a new species of Blankaartia collected from birds (Order Passeriformes).
The time-extended contact of trombiculid larvae with hosts poses a question of its ecological determinants. The phenomenon, which may facilitate the overwintering of larvae in the temperate zone, was previously observed in few parasitengone taxa, but not confirmed for mammal-associated trombiculids. The study aims at tracing the phenology of larvae of Hirsutiella zachvatkini and at verifying the hypothesis of contact with the host, extending beyond the parasitic phase.