Spinose ear tick, Otobius megnini, has a worldwide distribution causing otoacariasis or parasitic otitis in animals and humans. It mainly infests horses and cattle. It is a nidicolous, one-host soft tick spread from the New World to the Old World and is now distributed across all the continents. Only the larvae and nymphs are parasitic, feeding inside the ear canal of the host for a long period. Adult males and females are free-living and nonfeeding, and mating occurs off the host. Being inside the ear canal of the host allows the tick to be distributed over a vast geographic region through the distribution of the host animals. The presence of infectious agents Coxiella burnetii, the agent of Q fever, spotted fever rickettsia, Ehrlichia canis, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Babesia in O. megnini has been reported, but its role as a vector has not been confirmed. Human infestations are mostly associated with horse riding and farming through close contacts with companion animals. Control measures involve use of acaricides, repellants, and biological control methods. However, controlling the tick population and its spread is extremely difficult due to its life cycle pattern, seasonal dynamics, and resistance to certain acaricides.
Part of the book: Ticks and Tick-Borne Pathogens