What blood type do ticks prefer?
Ever wonder why some people are more likely to be bitten by a tick than others? Researchers in the Czech Republic claim it may have to do with a person’s blood type. “The influence of blood groups on certain diseases such as malaria or some cancers has been already discussed and proved,” the authors point out. Type O blood has been linked to the slow progression of malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes. “This may suggest that there could be a similar relationship between tick-borne diseases and some blood group(s).”
To explore the possible association, Žákovská and colleagues from Masaryk University in the Czech Republic conducted a pilot study using an in vitro method. Blood from volunteers was placed on the perimeter of filter paper placed on a Petri dish.
Researchers collected 100 nymphal Ixodes ricinus ticks in Ruda, near the Brno Reservoir. These are the most common species of ticks in Europe and the Czech Republic. They are also the primary carrier of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria which causes Lyme disease.
Tick behavior was monitored at 1 and 2 minute intervals to determine which drop of blood they preferred.
“It can be stated that the most statistically preferred was blood group A, followed by the second groups – O and AB,” writes Žákovská. Type B blood was the least preferred blood group.
The findings need to be replicated in an in vivo study, given that other factors could influence the ticks’ feeding preferences in a living organism, the authors explain. However, “we cannot use model animals,” writes Žákovská, “because different animal species have different systems of blood groups.”
Studies on mosquitoes have shown preferences for certain blood types, according to a literature review by the authors. These studies used human volunteers.
“In one case, they allowed the mosquitoes to feed on the exposed hands of volunteers,” explains Žákovská. “In the second study, the experimenters were studying only ‘landing’ preferences of mosquitoes with amputated proboscis.”People with Blood Type A should be wary of ticks. Study shows ticks prefer Type A blood. Click To Tweet
So, what about using human volunteers? Unfortunately, “this approach involves increased risk of contracting a tick-borne infection,” writes Žákovská.
Or, the authors suggest “amputate the proboscis of the vector and/or use ticks which have been both bred and kept from eggs in sterile conditions to avoid the risk of carrying infectious agents.”
The study’s authors conclude that “blood group might be one of the factors determining the feeding preferences of Ixodes ricinus ticks.” And they warn, “people with the risk blood type A should take appropriate measures to protect themselves more effectively, and decrease the risk of contracting dangerous zoonotic diseases transmitted by ticks.”
Article updated: June 4, 2019
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- Zakovska A, Janecek J, Nejezchlebova H, Kucerova HL. Pilot study of Ixodes ricinus ticks preference for human ABO blood groups using a simple in vitro method. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2018;25(2):326-328.
I am b positive and have already had three ticks just this year and am the only one in my family, fleas also like me and all bugs that feed on blood, it’s me and my oldest son and I have 5 kids
I am O negative and also have had 3 ticks so far this year. Mosquitoes love me. 🙁
My daughter also A- was bit in 2013. 3 cousins go out exploring on a farm in Seaton TX and one gets bit. Blues Eye rash but I didn’t know what it was at the time.
I am A- and was diagnosed with Lyme in 2013. I was bit a second time in 2016. Both times with bulls-eye.
I have contacted Lyme disease and I am or negative blood group. I’ve always been susceptible to bites and attracting insects. I’ve always thought it was my blood that attracted them
Wow Dave, me too! I have Rh A- blood. I was bit twice last year as I slept by two different Black Widows eight months apart. I was bit in 1992 by an infected tick, but everyone else had no ticks on them.
Two years ago I went to Bodega Bay and I stayed on paths and near the vehicle when we pulled off the road for a nature break. I started to knock down the sparse tall grass, my husband just shook his head like I was crazy.
Well on the way home I found a tick climbing up on my leg. I put sticky traps under my front and back door.
I know there are a lot of us who attract bugs. 😒
Very interesting maybe this also needs to be considered; different pathogens the ticks harbour might make them go for different blood groups again as we know in humans certain bacteria can change human behaviour / tendencies for example to consume high amounts of sugars to sustain the specific pathogen I’m just saying it could also be infection driven like the above example!
The authors findings raised important questions. I discussed the blood type article to encourage other scientists.
Why not just study blood types of already infected patients.
As the guy above said, infection could influence the ticks behavior. Also things such as lyme grow differently in different blood types so you wouldn’t get a realistic sample of different blood types as those more susceptible would be the ones more likely to get sick.
Im B positive and i have chronic Lyme, co infections, and mycoplasma . So, not sure how they came up with this.