The occurrence of autochthonous clinical cases of canine and equine
babesiosis in Belgium during the last two decades suggests that the vector of the
pathogens responsible for these diseases, Dermacentor reticulatus (Ixodida: Ixodidae),
may be present in this country. Consequently, evidence for the presence of this
tick species in different locations within Belgium was investigated. Four different
locations were monitored by flagging in 2010; these included the locations at which
D. reticulatus was previously found on a dog in 2009 and on two red deer in 2007.
Two different species of tick were identified, Ixodes ricinus (Ixodida: Ixodidae) and
D. reticulatus. A total of 282 D. reticulatus adult ticks (98 males, 184 females)
were collected from the four sites. Ticks were found mainly from early March until
the end of May and a peak in activity was apparent in March. A Babesia spp.
(Piroplasmida: Babesiidae) genus-specific polymerase chain reaction test based on the
amplification of a fragment of the 18S rRNA gene was used to investigate the potential
presence of Babesia spp. All DNA extracts isolated from the total tick samples
yielded negative results. Additional studies to accurately determine the distribution
and vectorial capacity of this important tick species in Belgium are warranted.