The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with public health, agricultural, and academic experts to understand the possible threat posed by the spread of the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) in several U.S. states since its discovery in 2017, according to today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown,” said Ben Beard, Ph.D., deputy director of CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. “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 infestations on animals, on people, and in the environment, is spreading in the United States.”
First New Jersey, Now Eight Other States Report Finding The Longhorned Tick
New Jersey was the first state to report the tick on a sheep in August 2017. Since then, 45 counties or county equivalents in New Jersey and eight other states—Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia—have reported finding the tick on a variety of hosts, including people, wildlife, domestic animals, and in environmental samples.
In contrast to most tick species, a single female tick can reproduce offspring (1-2,000 eggs at a time) without mating. As a result, hundreds to thousands of ticks can be found on a single animal, person, or in the environment. Livestock producers and pet owners should work with their veterinarians to maintain regular tick prevention and report any unknown tick species to their local department of agriculture.
In other parts of the world where the Asian longhorned tick is common, it is a serious threat to livestock. In some regions of New Zealand and Australia, this tick can reduce production in dairy cattle by 25 percent.
CDC working to learn more, prevent spread of disease
To better understand the full potential impact of this tick discovery in the United States, CDC is working with a network of federal, state, and local experts representing veterinary and agricultural science and public health to:
Eventually operating under a national strategy, this network of collaborators will work to limit the spread of tickborne diseases before they affect people and animals. This concerted, sustained national effort is needed to address the threat posed by the Asian longhorned tick, as well as the threat posed by the ongoing increase in vector-borne diseases in the United States.
Steps You Can Take To Protect Against Tickborne Diseases
Whether you’re pursuing your favorite game animal, or just spending a weekend outdoors, anyone can follow these steps to prevent tick bites: