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.

Ixodes ricinus, also called the castor bean tick, is found primarily in Europe.

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.”

[bctt tweet=”People with Blood Type A should be wary of ticks. Study shows ticks prefer Type A blood.” username=”DrDanielCameron”]

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

References:
  1. 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.

31 Replies to "What blood type do ticks prefer?"

  • Mary
    06/23/2019 (2:39 am)
    Reply

    Instead of blood types maybe it’s the soaps my husband uses ivory and gets ticks all the time I use Fragrance saops, I find ticks on me but not attached, and since I’ve gotten older they don’t bite me as aften as my dogs or husband, he’s a diabetic maybe it’s something in the blood or something that you eat.

  • Rlux
    06/15/2019 (10:16 pm)
    Reply

    B type got bit a month ago for the first time (to my knowledge) Extracted it 24 hours after the bite

  • Mimi
    06/10/2019 (9:42 pm)
    Reply

    So genetics being what they are, many “A-s” may be a mixed A with either an O parent or also be Duffy negative (resistance to malaria) which may make them less appealing to mosquitos, ticks, etc.

  • Rhonda
    06/05/2019 (6:45 pm)
    Reply

    Sad to say I can’t remember my blood type, but do know my RH factor is negative. Mosquitos have always loved to bite me, and many ticks in my life as well. I’ve been very sick since the bite a year ago, but the more I have to learn with no medical help, I know this isn’t my 1st rodeo with symptoms of Lyme and coinfections.

    • M Johnson
      07/24/2021 (7:15 pm)
      Reply

      I’m blood type O and never been bitten by ticks. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods in the military. Have had them on me but never bitten.

      • Dr. Daniel Cameron
        07/25/2021 (7:46 am)
        Reply

        The is evidence that individuals with type O blood are at risk of Malaria from a bite. The blog referred to a single study in a test where ticks were more likely to head in the direction of a drop of type A blood. It is certainly not clear if tick prefer a blood type. The authors findings might encourage further research.

  • Terri
    06/05/2019 (6:16 pm)
    Reply

    I am type A and not surprised that ticks favor that blood type. I have had Lyme and co-infections at least 3x. The ticks love me and not my husband who is not type A. I’ve always assumed they liked my blood better than his, so maybe they are on to something with this blood type theory. For those with type B that have had Lyme, maybe there was no type A blood around???

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