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Invasive Tick Spreads to Ninth State, CDC Warns of 'New and Emerging Disease Threat'

The Asian longhorned tick has been found in nine states. CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned of a "multistate infestation" with the Asian longhorned tick—the first new tick species to enter the U.S. in 50 years.

New Jersey was the first state to report the Haemaphysalis longicornis on a sheep in August 2017. Since then, it has been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, according to Friday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.


"The presence of H. longicornis in the United States represents a new and emerging disease threat," the report said.

The ticks were reported from 45 counties in nine states from August 2017 to September 2018.CDC

As EcoWatch previously mentioned, in Asia the species carries a disease that kills 15 percent of those infected, but no human diseases have been linked to the species in the U.S. since it was first found in New Jersey.

The CDC is currently working with public health, agricultural and academic experts to understand the possible threat posed by the insect.

"The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown," said Ben Beard, Ph.D., deputy director of CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in a press release. "In other parts of the world, the Asian longhorned tick can transmit many types of pathogens common in the United States. We are concerned that this tick, which can cause massive infestations on animals, on people, and in the environment, is spreading in the United States."

LiveScience further reported:

"In other parts of the world, longhorned ticks are known to spread diseases, including the bacterial infections babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, theileriosis and rickettsiosis, as well as certain viral diseases. In China and Japan, the longhorned tick transmits a disease called severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), which can be deadly."

Unlike most tick species, a single female Asian longhorned tick can reproduce offspring without mating and lay up to 2,000 eggs at a time.

This means hundreds to thousands of ticks can be found on a single animal, person or in the environment, the CDC said.

Earlier this month, the CDC reported that in 2017, state and local health departments reported a record number of tickborne illnesses like Lyme disease.

"Tick-borne diseases like Lyme hit an all-time high this year, just as a new tick capable of spreading disease rears its ugly head," Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal tweeted Friday in reaction to the report. "It's clear, urgent federal action is needed to fight the debilitating & growing public health threat of tick-borne diseases."

You can protect yourself from tick-borne diseases by using insect repellents, wearing protective gear and clothing, checking your body and clothing for ticks after returning from potentially tick-infested areas and showering soon after being outdoors, the CDC advises.

The CDC also advised livestock producers and pet owners to work with their veterinarians to maintain regular tick prevention and report any unknown tick species to their local department of agriculture.

Here's the agency's advice on what you should do if you think you have found an Asian longhorned tick:

  • Remove any tick from people and animals as quickly as possible.
  • Save the ticks in rubbing alcohol in a jar or a ziplock bag, then:
    • Contact your health department about steps you can take to prevent tick bites and tickborne diseases.
    • Contact a veterinarian for information about how to protect pets from ticks and tick bites.
    • Contact your state agriculture department or local agricultural extension office about ticks on livestock or for tick identification.

Longhorned tick. Nymph and adult female, undersideCDC

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