CDC: Worrisome longhorned tick spreading rapidly in US

CDC warns of new tick species in U.S. that could spread disease to humans

The CDC said it's still unclear what if any diseases the ticks carry

- A species of tick that was virtually unseen in the United States just a few years ago is now spreading across several states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is investigating the threat it may pose.

A species of tick native to Asia is spreading across the United States, according to a new report.

"The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown", stated Ben Beard from the CDC, who is the deputy director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. In China and Japan, the Asian longhorned tick transmits severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV), which causes hemorrhagic fever, as well as Rickettsia japonica, which causes Japanese spotted fever.

Asian longhorned ticks were first discovered in the U.S.in August 2017.

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The Asian longhorned tick can spread quickly because a single female tick is capable of reproducing without mating, which can result in massive host infestations.

In New Jersey the ticks have been found in Bergen, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset, and Union Counties; Richmond, Rockland, and Westchester Counties in NY and Bucks and Centre Counties in Pennsylvania, according to the report.

Among the 546 counties or county equivalents in the nine states, ticks were reported in 45 counties (8%, or 1.4% of all 3,109 U.S. counties and equivalents), the report said.

The species - which is reportedly the first new tick species found in the U.S.in 50 years - is known formally as the Haemaphysalis longicornis, or the Asian long-horned tick.

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"The recently documented occurrence of H. longicornis in the United States presents an opportunity for collaboration among governmental, agricultural, public health agencies and partners in academic public health, veterinary sciences, and agricultural sciences to prevent diseases of potential national importance before onset in humans and other animal species", the agency notes.

"These [findings] represent sentinels that H. longicornis is present in different USA states and regions, and not a comprehensive assessment of the distribution of H. longicornis in the United States", the authors conclude. "Many state and federal agencies are developing and disseminating information for stakeholders, including development of hotlines, and some states are identifying ticks submitted by the public".

Determine how frequently the Asian longhorned tick bites people and animals in the United States. People are advised to take showers within two hours of a visit to a tick infested area and also inspect their bodies carefully for presence of ticks. Overall detection, prevention and control strategies are being devised by the team says the CDC.

Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin.

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