Distribution of Ixodes ricinus ticks and prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis virus among questing ticks in the Arctic Circle region of northern Norway

Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018 Jan;9(1):97-103. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2017.10.002. Epub 2017 Oct 8.


This study investigated the geographical distribution of Ixodes ricinus and prevalence of the tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) in northern Norway. Flagging for questing I. ricinus ticks was performed in areas ranging from Vikna in Nord-Trøndelag County, located 190km south of the Arctic Circle (66.3°N), to Steigen in Nordland County, located 155km north of the Arctic Circle. We found that ticks were abundant in both Vikna (64.5°N) and Brønnøy (65.1°N). Only a few ticks were found at locations ∼66°N, and no ticks were found at several locations up to 67.5°N. Real-time PCR (RT-PCR) analyses of the collected ticks (nymphs and adults) for the presence of TBEV revealed a low prevalence (0.1%) of TBEV among the nymphs collected in Vikna, while a prevalence of 0% to 3% was found among nymphs collected at five locations in Brønnøy. Adult ticks collected in Vikna and Brønnøy had higher rates of TBEV infection (8.6% and 0%-9.0%, respectively) than the nymphs. No evidence of TBEV was found in the few ticks collected further north of Brønnøy. This is the first report of TBEV being detected at locations up to 65.1°N. It remains to be verified whether viable populations of I. ricinus exist at locations north of 66°N. Future studies are warranted to increase our knowledge concerning tick distribution, tick abundance, and tick-borne pathogens in northern Norway.

Keywords: Geographical distribution; Hard ticks; Ixodes ricinus; Real-time PCR; TBE; TBEV; Tick-borne diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Distribution*
  • Animals
  • Arctic Regions / epidemiology
  • Encephalitis Viruses, Tick-Borne / physiology*
  • Encephalitis, Tick-Borne / parasitology
  • Female
  • Ixodes / growth & development
  • Ixodes / physiology*
  • Ixodes / virology*
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Nymph / virology
  • Prevalence
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seasons