Worrisome longhorned tick spreading rapidly in US — CDC

Desiree Burns
December 1, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control is warning of an invasive tick species that is spreading in a number of eastern US states.

The species - which is reportedly the first new tick species found in the U.S.in 50 years - is known formally as the Haemaphysalis longicornis, or the Asian long-horned tick. The tick was first discovered oin New Jersey past year.

The Asian longhorn tick is a serious threat to livestock in Australia and New Zealand.

Unlike most tick species, longhorned ticks are capable of reproducing asexually and a female can lay as many as 2,000 eggs at a time without ever mating. "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".

While "no harmful germs have been found in the ticks collected in the United States", the CDC reported, the tick has reportedly transmitted the potentially life-threatening spotted fever rickettsiosis in Asia.

Although the CDC has found no harmful germs in ticks collected in the USA, bites from the Asian longhorned tick have been known to transmit deadly diseases such as human hemorrhagic fever.

Asian Longhorned Tick Is Invading United States

Since then, the tick has been detected in nine states: New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland, the report said.

As of last month, no longhorned ticks found in the U.S. have been linked to disease, the CDC said.

Among the 546 counties or county equivalents in the nine states, ticks were reported in 45 counties (8%, or 1.4% of all 3,109 USA counties and equivalents), the report said.

"These [findings] represent sentinels that H. longicornis is present in different USA states and regions, and not a comprehensive assessment of the distribution of H. longicornis in the United States", the authors conclude. "Even in states where H. longicornis has been found, the available data do not describe the actual extent or intensity of infestation".

Officials are now working with experts in veterinary medicine, agricultural science and public health at the to better understand the potential impact of the longhorned tick in the U.S.

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