Asian longhorned ticks came on the scene in the United States a couple of years ago. Since the, the bugs have continued to pose an imminent threat to livestock and citizens.
This new species was first discovered on a sheep in New Jersey. Back in August of this year, six states across the U.S. confirmed illnesses from this species of tick.
Now, a total of nine states or about 45 counties, have reported the Asian longhorned tick on people, as well as domestic animals and farms. These states, along with New Jersey, include Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, West Virginia, New York, Maryland, and Connecticut.
As a species that multiplies fast, the Asian longhorned tick could pose an even greater problem.
One of the reasons why this tick differs from others is that it generates between 1,000 and 2,000 eggs, without a male partner.
Ticks are separated into two categories according to their body structure: hard ticks and soft ticks. Hard ticks are the most common, found on dogs and cats, as well as individuals. This pest uses a sophisticated system known as “questing” to track their “victim” and latch on to it.
Did you know that while we pass by these insects, we generate a biochemical signal by increasing carbon dioxide levels? Ticks sense this and use various vegetation to reach the unsuspecting host. Then, these ticks mate while attached to the host. Once the female gorges herself with the host’s blood, she drops to the ground and lays her eggs, a few thousand of them in fact.
The Asian longhorned tick is more dangerous though because she can reproduce faster. Hosts have been found with thousands of ticks on them.
The Deputy Director of the CDC Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Ben Beard, Ph.D. noted that we currently don’t the consequences of these ticks. From agriculture to public health, the organization is working to determine the risks. He goes on to say, “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 infestation on animals, on people, and in the environment, is spreading in the United States.”
Records in Australia and New Zealand confirm that farms have lost approximately 25 percent of their animals.
The CDC is taking steps to follow and prevent further spreading. Some of the preventive methods they’re implementing are:
- Researching the pathogens that these ticks carry and spread to their hosts.
- Reviewing testing that will aid in detecting the germs harbored by the ticks.
- Tracking and monitoring the areas in which the ticks have appeared and attempting to predict where they will go.
- Establishing, directing, and conducting new studies on a starter or clean colony in sanitary laboratory conditions.
- Educating the public about prevention and how frequently these pests bite people and mammals within the U.S. borders.
You can be proactive in protecting yourself from ticks through:
- Tucking your clothing into your pants, and socks into your shoes.
- Spraying your outer clothing with insect repellent with 0.5 percent Permethrin.
- Showering within 2 hours of coming indoors and toss clothing in dryer for 15 minutes.
- Thoroughly check yourself in a mirror, preferably full-length, and scan your body for unfamiliar “freckles” as this is probably a tick.
- Administer correct tick repellent product on your livestock and pets. Be sure to consult your vet for appropriate dosages and recommended brands.
Ticks are harmful tiny insects that cause several diseases. The good news is that you can do all you can to protect yourself and others from the pests.
Written for Passport Health by Sabrina Cortes. Sabrina is a freelance writer with a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgian Court University. She currently lives in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina.