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Ectoparasites of murids in peninsular Malaysia and their associated diseases

Mohd Zain, Siti Nursheena, Syed Khalil Amdan, Syed Arnez, Braima, Kamil A, Abdul-Aziz, Noraishah M, Wilson, John-James, Sithambaran, Paramesvaran, Jeffery, John
Parasites & vectors 2015 v.8 no.1 pp. 254
Siphonaptera, chiggers, habitats, humans, lice, pathogens, population distribution, rats, risk, surveys, ticks
A considerable number of rat-borne ectoparasite studies have been conducted since the early 1930s in the Malayan Peninsula (now known as peninsular Malaysia). The majority of studies were field surveys and collections of specimens across the region, and were conducted primarily to catalogue the ectoparasite host distribution and discover novel species. This has generated a signification amount of information, particularly on the diversity and host distribution; other aspects such as morphology, host distribution and medical significance have also been investigated. Amongst the four main groups (mites, fleas, ticks, lice), rat-borne mites have received the most attention with a particular emphasis on chiggers, due to their medical importance. More recent studies have examined the distribution of ectoparasites in rats from different habitat type simplicating a high prevalence of zoonotic species infesting rat populations. Despite being capable of transmitting dangerous pathogens to human, the health risks of rat-borne ectoparasites appear to be small with no serious outbreaks of diseases recorded. Although an extensive number of works have been published, there remain gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed, such as, the distribution of under studied ectoparasite groups (listrophorids and myobiids), determining factors influencing infestation, and understanding changes to the population distribution over time.