Volume 89, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Ticks in the nostrils of humans visiting equatorial African forests have been reported sporadically for decades, but their taxonomy and natural history have remained obscure. We report human infestation with a nostril tick in Kibale National Park, Uganda, coincident with infestation of chimpanzees in the same location with nostril ticks, as shown by high-resolution digital photography. The human-derived nostril tick was identified morphologically and genetically as a nymph of the genus , but the mitochondrial 12S ribosomal RNA or the nuclear intergenic transcribed spacer 2 DNA sequences of the specimen were not represented in GenBank. These ticks may represent a previously uncharacterized species that is adapted to infesting chimpanzee nostrils as a defense against grooming. Ticks that feed upon apes and humans may facilitate cross-species transmission of pathogens, and the risk of exposure is likely elevated for persons who frequent ape habitats.


Article metrics loading...

The graphs shown below represent data from March 2017
Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Hotez PJ, Kamath A, , 2009. Neglected tropical diseases in sub-saharan Africa: review of their prevalence, distribution, and disease burden. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 3: e412.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  2. Cumming GS, , 2000. Using habitat models to map diversity: pan-African species richness of ticks (Acari: Ixodida). J Biogeogr 27: 425440.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  3. Walton GA, , 1960. A tick infecting the nostrils of man. Nature 188: 11311132.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  4. Van der Borght-Elbl A, , 1977. Ixodid Ticks (Acarina, Ixodiae) of Central Africa, Volume 5. Tervuren, Belgium: Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale. [Google Scholar]
  5. Aronsen GP, Robbins RG, , 2008. An instance of tick feeding to repletion inside a human nostril. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 49: 245248.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  6. Struhsaker T, , 1997. Ecology of an African Rain Forest: Logging in Kibale and the Conflict between Conservation and Exploitation. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. [Google Scholar]
  7. Wrangham R, Ross E, , 2008. Science and Conservation in African Forests: The Benefits of Long-Term Research. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  8. Goldberg TL, Gillespie TR, Rwego IB, Wheeler ER, Estoff EE, Chapman CA, , 2007. Patterns of gastrointestinal bacterial exchange between chimpanzees and humans involved in research and tourism in western Uganda. Biol Conserv 135: 511517.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  9. Rwego IB, Isabirye-Basuta G, Gillespie TR, Goldberg TL, , 2008. Gastrointestinal bacterial transmission among humans, mountain gorillas, and livestock in Bwindi impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Conserv Biol 22: 16001607.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  10. Smith TM, Machanda Z, Bernard AB, Donovan RM, Papakyrikos AM, Muller MN, Wrangham R, , 2013. First molar eruption, weaning, and life history in living wild chimpanzees. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110: 27872791.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  11. Wilson ML, Kahlenberg SM, Wells M, Wrangham RW, , 2012. Ecological and social factors affect the occurrence and outcomes of intergroup encounters in chimpanzees. Anim Behav 83: 277291.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  12. Hickson RE, Simon C, Cooper A, Spicer GS, Sullivan J, Penny D, , 1996. Conserved sequence motifs, alignment, and secondary structure for the third domain of animal 12S rRNA. Mol Biol Evol 13: 150169.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  13. Beati L, Patel J, Lucas-Williams H, Adakal H, Kanduma EG, Tembo-Mwase E, Krecek R, Mertins JW, Alfred JT, Kelly S, Kelly P, , 2012. Phylogeography and demographic history of Amblyomma variegatum (Fabricius) (Acari: Ixodidae), the tropical bont tick. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 12: 514525.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  14. Sievers F, Wilm A, Dineen D, Gibson TJ, Karplus K, Li W, Lopez R, McWilliam H, Remmert M, Soding J, Thompson JD, Higgins DG, , 2011. Fast, scalable generation of high-quality protein multiple sequence alignments using Clustal Omega. Mol Syst Biol 7: 539.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  15. Saitou N, Nei M, , 1987. The neighbor-joining method: a new method for reconstructing phylogenetic trees. Mol Biol Evol 4: 406425. [Google Scholar]
  16. Tamura K, Peterson D, Peterson N, Stecher G, Nei M, Kumar S, , 2011. MEGA5: molecular evolutionary genetics analysis using maximum likelihood, evolutionary distance, and maximum parsimony methods. Mol Biol Evol 28: 27312739.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  17. Matthysse JG, Colbo MH, , 1987. The Ixodid Ticks of Uganda: Together with Species Pertinent to Uganda because of Their Present Known Distribution. College Park, MD: Entomological Society of America. [Google Scholar]
  18. Beati L, Keirans JE, , 2001. Analysis of the systematic relationships among ticks of the genera Rhipicephalus and Boophilus (Acari: Ixodidae) based on mitochondrial 12S ribosomal DNA gene sequences and morphological characters. J Parasitol 87: 3248.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  19. Voltzit OV, Keirans JE, , 2003. A review of African Amblyomma species (Acari, Ixodida, Ixodidae). Acarina 11: 135214. [Google Scholar]
  20. Goodall J, , 1986. The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [Google Scholar]
  21. Kuhn HJ, Chiarelli B, , 1967. Parasites and the phylogeny of the cararrhine primates. , ed. Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Old World Primates with References to the Origin of Man. Torino, Italy: Rosenberg and Seller, 187195. [Google Scholar]
  22. Sonenshine DE, , 1991. Biology of Ticks. New York: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
  23. Cazorla C, Socolovschi C, Jensenius M, Parola P, , 2008. Tick-borne diseases: tick-borne spotted fever rickettsioses in Africa. Infect Dis Clin North Am 22: 531544 ix–x.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  24. Walker JB, , 1987. The tick vectors of Cowdria ruminantium (Ixodidea, Ixodidae, Genus Amblyomma) and their distribution. Onderstepoort J Vet 54: 353379. [Google Scholar]
  25. Randolph SE, Rogers DJ, , 2010. The arrival, establishment and spread of exotic diseases: patterns and predictions. Nat Rev Microbiol 8: 361371.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  26. Hamer SA, Goldberg TL, Kitron UD, Brawn JD, Anderson TK, Loss SR, Walker ED, Hamer GL, , 2012. Wild birds and urban ecology of ticks and tick-borne pathogens, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 2005–2010. Emerg Infect Dis 18: 15891595.[Crossref] [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Received : 12 Feb 2013
  • Accepted : 05 Aug 2013
  • Published online : 06 Nov 2013

Most Cited This Month

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error