Dangerous, Invasive Tick Species Spreading in the US

Dangerous, Invasive Tick Species Spreading in the US

Haemaphysalis longicornis tick. photo credit: The New Jersey Department of Agriculture


State Urges Marylanders to take Precautions to Protect Livestock, Pets, and Humans

Marylanders are urged to take precautions in protecting themselves, their pets and their livestock from an invasive species detected recently in the state. Haemaphysalis longicornis, also known as the East Asian Tick, the Longhorned Tick or the Bush Tick has been found in Maryland.

Dr. Michael Radebaugh, the State’s Veterinarian, says the insect was detected in Washington County on a white tail deer which died after being struck by a motor vehicle. “That’s the first case in Maryland,” he says. “We’re the seventh state that this tick has been found. Initially, it was found in New Jersey a year and a half ago.”

The Asian Longhorned tick is a prolific breeder. After gorging on a blood meal, a single tick can lay between 800 and 2,000 eggs. And they attack in numbers.

“Both the nymph stage and the adult stage are very aggressive,” said Radebaugh. “And they seem to cluster and attack, if you will, livestock.” And they can drain so much blood, they can leave an animal weak and anemic. “So it’s scary,”

In addition to Maryland and New Jersey,  it’s been detected in West Virginia, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania. It was first discovered on a pet sheep in New Jersey last summer and had been seen this summer in Arkansas, North Carolina, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. Just last week, Pennsylvania became the latest state to report an Asian longhorned tick sighting.

Like most tick species, the Asian Longhorned Tick can carry disease-causing pathogens, including bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the Powassan virus, and the parasite responsible for babesiosis, an infection that goes after red blood cells. In Eastern Asia, the tick is thought to spread a virus that causes an emerging disease known as Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS). People with SFTS have abnormally low platelet levels and can rapidly suffer organ failure. The mortality rate of SFTS can reach as high as 30 percent.

The good news is that no ticks have tested positive yet for diseases in the United States, but all eight states are keeping longhorned ticks under careful surveillance.

For more information about the longhorned tick and its impact on animal health, you can contact the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health program by phone at (410) 841-5810 or email animalhealth.mda@maryland.gov.


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