In a recent press release, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of a widespread threat: the Asian longhorned tick. The presence of this insect has now been confirmed in nine states across the US. These states are New Jersey, Virginia, New York, Maryland, Arkansas, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Connecticut. The first tick was discovered in New Jersey, in August of 2017.
Now, ticks are not foreign to the United States; and we are familiar with the fact that they are dangerous because they can carry and spread disease. The Asian longhorned tick species, however, is a particularly dangerous parasite because it has the ability to lay eggs without mating. And the CDC reports that a single female Asian longhorned tick can lay as many as 2,000 eggs in a single non-mating session. This means as the CDC press release reports, “hundreds to thousands of ticks can be found on a single animal, person, or environment.”
And it is quite important to keep in mind that a tick infestation is not just threatening to human health. For example, livestock producers in areas where the Asian longhorned tick is native (like Australia and New Zealand) can attest that a single infestation can deplete production by up to 25 percent!
That said, though, the combined public health and agricultural health concerns over this tick discovery are not yet known. Data shows simply that these insects can carry and transmit many different pathogens, through massive populations carried on animals and people and throughout the environment.
Because the potential threat of this pending infestation is so severe, the CDC is urging that people regularly check themselves and animals for ticks. This is particularly important for farmers and pet owners, even if you already have your animal tested and treated for ticks. Should you find any tick you do not recognize, the CDC reports you should definitely report it to your local department of agriculture.
If you do find a tick on your body or the body of a pet or other animal—and you believe it to be an Asian longhorned tick—the CDC says it is best to remove it as quickly as possible. Extract the insect and put it in a Ziploc bag with rubbing alcohol before contacting the department of agriculture; and, of course, seek medical advice from a doctor and/or a veterinarian.