An integrated database on ticks and tick-borne zoonoses in the tropics and subtropics with special reference to developing and emerging countries.
Tick-borne zoonoses (TBZ) are emerging diseases worldwide. A large amount of information (e.g. case reports, results of epidemiological surveillance, etc.) is dispersed through various reference sources (ISI and non-ISI journals, conference proceedings, technical reports, etc.). An integrated database-derived from the ICTTD-3 project ( http://www.icttd.nl )-was developed in order to gather TBZ records in the (sub-)tropics, collected both by the authors and collaborators worldwide. A dedicated website ( http://www.tickbornezoonoses.org ) was created to promote collaboration and circulate information. Data collected are made freely available to researchers for analysis by spatial methods, integrating mapped ecological factors for predicting TBZ risk. The authors present the assembly process of the TBZ database: the compilation of an updated list of TBZ relevant for (sub-)tropics, the database design and its structure, the method of bibliographic search, the assessment of spatial precision of geo-referenced records. At the time of writing, 725 records extracted from 337 publications related to 59 countries in the (sub-)tropics, have been entered in the database. TBZ distribution maps were also produced. Imported cases have been also accounted for. The most important datasets with geo-referenced records were those on Spotted Fever Group rickettsiosis in Latin-America and Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever in Africa. The authors stress the need for international collaboration in data collection to update and improve the database. Supervision of data entered remains always necessary. Means to foster collaboration are discussed. The paper is also intended to describe the challenges encountered to assemble spatial data from various sources and to help develop similar data collections.