Letter to the editor regarding the paper “Tick infestation of the eyelid”

Filipe Dantas-Torres About the author

Dear Editor:

I have read with interest the paper by Varma and collaborators, titled “Tick infestation of the eyelid”, (https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0037-86822020000100821) which has recently been published in Revista Brasileira de Medicina Tropical11. Raghunandanan Rama Varma RR, Varma P, Kumar A. Tick infestation of the eyelid. Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2020;53. DOI: 10.1590/0037-8682-0599-2019.
https://doi.org/10.1590/0037-8682-0599-2...
. The authors reported the finding of a tick on the eyelid of a 57-year-old man. However, the article contains several issues that should be addressed for clarity.

The authors did not mention the country of origin of the patient (India?), which is an extremely relevant information for contextualizing the case report into a broader context. Moreover, they did not explain how the tick was removed or if any treatment was applied, which are important pieces of information in any clinical case report.

With regard to tick identification, the authors stated that the tick was identified as an engorged adult female “as males do not enlarge upon feeding”. The readers of this prestigious journal should be aware that this is not a valid criterion for differentiating male ticks from female ones. Adult ticks have four pairs of legs and are sexually mature (they have a genital opening). The basic difference between males and females of hard ticks (family Ixodidae) is the dorsal scutum, which is anterior (podonotal scutum) in the females and complete (i.e., it covers the entire dorsal surface of idiosoma; holonotal scutum) in the males. Besides, the larvae (three pairs of legs and no genital opening) and nymphs (four pairs of legs and no genital opening) also engorge upon feeding.

Further, the authors used non-taxonomic criteria to identify the tick species. The tick found is inornate (i.e., no ornamentation on the dorsal scutum) and, unbelievably, they used scutum ornamentation to distinguish the tick found from the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum). In reality, these two ticks occur in North America, not in India (supposed origin of the patient). Therefore, the authors should have used proper morphological criteria and taxonomic keys to identify the tick species, distinguishing it from its congeners present in the patient’s country of origin.

For instance, supposing that the genus of the tick is correct, other Rhipicephalus spp. may be found in India, including in humans22. Soundararajan C, Nagarajan K, Arul Prakash M. Tick infestation in human beings in the Nilgiris and Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, India. J Parasit Dis. 2018;42(1):50-4.. Nonetheless, the figures presented are of low quality to make any conclusion in this sense. In the same way, as emphasized previously33. Dantas-Torres F, Otranto D. Further thoughts on the taxonomy and vector role of Rhipicephalus sanguineus group ticks. Vet Parasitol. 2015;208(1-2):9-13.

4. Nava S, Estrada-Peña A, Petney T, Beati L, Labruna MB, Szabó MP, Venzal JM, Mastropaolo M, Mangold AJ, Guglielmone AA. The taxonomic status of Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille, 1806). Vet Parasitol . 2015;208(1-2):2-8.
-55. Nava S, Beati L, Venzal JM, Labruna MB, Szabó MPJ, Petney T, Saracho-Bottero MN, Tarragona EL, Dantas-Torres F, Silva MMS, Mangold AJ, Guglielmone AA, Estrada-Peña A. Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille, 1806): Neotype designation, morphological re-description of all parasitic stages and molecular characterization. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018;9(6):1573-85., any tick showing morphological features compatible with the species Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu stricto (i.e., in the narrow sense) should be referred to as “Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato” in the absence of confirmatory genetic data. Indeed, a previous study suggested the existence of at least two distinct genetic lineages of brown dog ticks in India, which actually are not R. sanguineus sensu stricto66. Dantas-Torres F, Latrofa MS, Annoscia G, Giannelli A, Parisi A, Otranto D. Morphological and genetic diversity of Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato from the New and Old Worlds. Parasit Vectors. 2013;6:213..

Another problem is that the authors mentioned that the brown dog tick is a vector of “Rickettsia rickettsia” [sic]. Besides the misspelling of the species epithet (the correct is “rickettsii”), this bacterium is present in the western hemisphere (not in India, again, supposed origin of the patient). Furthermore, the authors mention tick paralysis as another “rare manifestation”. Actually, tick paralysis is a common occurrence in some countries (e.g., Australia) and not typically related to brown dog ticks. The article cited by the authors to support their statement did not provide information on tick species or even country of origin of the patient (Turkey?)77. Engin A, Elaldi N, Bolayir E, Dokmetas I, Bakir M. Tick paralysis with atypical presentation: isolated, reversible involvement of the upper trunk of brachial plexus. Emerg Med J. 2006;23(7):e42..

Finally, the instructions to authors for the section Images of Infectious Disease of Revista Brasileira de Medicina Tropical advised that figures should be of the best possible quality. Unfortunately, the figures are of low quality and there is a cotton swab in Figure 2, which I suppose was used as a scale bar.

Revista Brasileira de Medicina Tropical is a traditional journal in Brazil and contains the history of tropical medicine of this country, along with other journals, such as Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz and Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo, just to mention a few. In this perspective, I urge authors and reviewers of this journal to increase considerably their level of criticism, ultimately to increase the quality of manuscripts published in this prestigious journal for the benefit of science and to honor the long tradition of the Revista Brasileira de Medicina Tropical.

REFERENCES

  • 1
    Raghunandanan Rama Varma RR, Varma P, Kumar A. Tick infestation of the eyelid. Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2020;53. DOI: 10.1590/0037-8682-0599-2019.
    » https://doi.org/10.1590/0037-8682-0599-2019
  • 2
    Soundararajan C, Nagarajan K, Arul Prakash M. Tick infestation in human beings in the Nilgiris and Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, India. J Parasit Dis. 2018;42(1):50-4.
  • 3
    Dantas-Torres F, Otranto D. Further thoughts on the taxonomy and vector role of Rhipicephalus sanguineus group ticks. Vet Parasitol. 2015;208(1-2):9-13.
  • 4
    Nava S, Estrada-Peña A, Petney T, Beati L, Labruna MB, Szabó MP, Venzal JM, Mastropaolo M, Mangold AJ, Guglielmone AA. The taxonomic status of Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille, 1806). Vet Parasitol . 2015;208(1-2):2-8.
  • 5
    Nava S, Beati L, Venzal JM, Labruna MB, Szabó MPJ, Petney T, Saracho-Bottero MN, Tarragona EL, Dantas-Torres F, Silva MMS, Mangold AJ, Guglielmone AA, Estrada-Peña A. Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille, 1806): Neotype designation, morphological re-description of all parasitic stages and molecular characterization. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018;9(6):1573-85.
  • 6
    Dantas-Torres F, Latrofa MS, Annoscia G, Giannelli A, Parisi A, Otranto D. Morphological and genetic diversity of Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato from the New and Old Worlds. Parasit Vectors. 2013;6:213.
  • 7
    Engin A, Elaldi N, Bolayir E, Dokmetas I, Bakir M. Tick paralysis with atypical presentation: isolated, reversible involvement of the upper trunk of brachial plexus. Emerg Med J. 2006;23(7):e42.

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    13 Nov 2020
  • Date of issue
    2021

History

  • Received
    17 June 2020
  • Accepted
    19 June 2020
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