The Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, was first found in the United States in 2017. Since then it has been found in nine states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennesee, Virginia and West Virginia. If found in every state bordering Delaware, will it be long before one is found here?
The tick is native to Asia and is not normally found in the western hemisphere. In other countries, bites from these ticks have made people and animals very sick. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, as of the end of May no harmful germs have been found on the ticks that have been collected in the United States.
The first of the species found in the United States was on a sheep in New Jersey two years ago. It has since been found on people, wildlife and domestic animals, including cattle in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension cautions that infested animals could lose weight and become anemic, and that milk output may be lowered and wool production reduced.
The hard tick species is small, about 1/8 inch in length, and is reddish-brown with no distinctive white markings. Photos of the Asian longhorned tick and preventive measures can be found online at https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/pdfs/AsianLonghornedTick-P.pdf.
Female longhorned ticks can reproduce without the aid of a male, laying thousands of eggs.
The CDC recommends that any tick be removed from people or animals as quickly as possible. Save the tick in rubbing alcohol in a jar or 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.