Pigeon ticks (Argas spp.) - mites associated with birds - potentially harmful to domestic mammals and humans.
This article aims at the presentation of pigeon mites, that frequently occur in these birds and may also present some health hazard for domestic animals and humans. Three species of soft ticks (family: Argasidae), are currently reported in Poland. Two species belong to genus Argas (A. reflexus and A. polonicus) and are connected with synanthropic habitats like lofts and church towers, where wild pigeons are nesting. Another soft tick species in Poland - Carios vespertilionis invades bats in their natural as well as synanthropic environments. These three species can invade humans however, A. reflexus is the most important from an epidemiological point of view. Infested birds seriously suffer, abandon nestlings or even die if the tick-infestation is massive. People are attacked sporadically, especially if the natural hosts availability is ceased. Invasions of soft ticks can cause allergic reactions and toxicoses, with different clinical symptoms which may present health hazard. An effective protection against pigeon ticks is the elimination of pigeons from surroundings of human settlements like attics, lofts or towers. Another approach is using insecticides like pyrethroids or carbamates against individuals hidden in the crevices or fissures of the building walls.