Ticks need not bite their red grouse hosts to infect them with louping ill virus

Lucy Gilbert, Linda D. Jones, M. Karen Laurenson, Ernie A. Gould, Hugh W. Reid, Peter J. Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


For pathogens transmitted by biting vectors, one of the fundamental assumptions is often that vector bites are the sole or main route of host infection. Here, we demonstrate experimentally a transmission route whereby hosts (red grouse, Lagopus lagopus scoticus) became infected with a member of the tick-borne encephalitis virus complex, louping ill virus, after eating the infected tick vector. Furthermore, we estimated from field observations that this mode of infection could account for 73-98% of all virus infections in wild red grouse in their first season. This has potential implications for the understanding of other biting vector-borne pathogens where hosts may ingest vectors through foraging or grooming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S202-S205
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL. 4
StatePublished - May 7 2004


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Gilbert, L., Jones, L. D., Laurenson, M. K., Gould, E. A., Reid, H. W., & Hudson, P. J. (2004). Ticks need not bite their red grouse hosts to infect them with louping ill virus. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 271(SUPPL. 4), S202-S205.