New Invasive ‘Aggressive Biter’ Tick Found in Several States: Reports

August 8, 2018 Updated: August 9, 2018    

A new species of “aggressive” tick has spread across several U.S. states, sparking concern among experts.

“It is a serious pest of livestock in its native regions and the means of introduction into the U.S. is unknown,” said the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in a statement last month.

The longhorned tick has been found in Warren County, Virginia, as well as Arkansas and even Westchester County, New York, Fox News reported on Aug. 7. The tick was also found on an opossum in Polk County, North Carolina.

CBS Baltimore reported on Aug. 7 that the longhorned tick was found in Washington County, Maryland. “It does seem to like livestock,” stated Maryland Department of Agriculture’s state veterinarian Dr. Michael Radebaugh to the station. “In livestock, if there’s an unusual amount of ticks, we certainly want to hear about it.”

The tick, native to East Asia, is known as the “bush tick” in New Zealand and Australia.

“Its presence in N.C. signals the need among livestock producers and residents for greater awareness, surveillance, and tick control management. It is an aggressive biter and frequently builds intense infestations on animals causing great stress, reduced growth and production, and blood loss,” the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also added.

“While the longhorned tick has not been linked to any human infection in the U.S., the N.C. Division of Public Health is working with NCDA&CS [North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services] to understand its distribution and monitor for diseases it may carry,” the North Carolina officials added.

Human diseases transmitted via the longhorned tick in Asia include the spotted fever rickettsiosis, which is a bacterial infection that can be life-threatening. It can also transmit phlebovirus that causes Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS), which can cause a “hemorrhagic fever.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a list of things to do if one gets bitten by a tick:

– Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
– Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
– After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
– Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.