Just What We Didn't Need: a Brand-New Tick in US

Asian longhorned tick, an import, is spreading fast on the East Coast
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2018 2:15 PM CDT
Just What We Didn't Need: a Brand-New Tick in US
This photo provided by Rutgers University shows three longhorned ticks: from left, a fully engorged female, a partial engorged female, and an engorged nymph.   (Jim Occi/Rutgers University via AP)

Because ticks that make you allergic to meat or give you Lyme disease weren't distressing enough: A new tick from east Asia is now spreading rapidly along the East Coast, the first new species to arrive in 50 years, reports the New York Times. It's called the Asian longhorned tick, and so far the biggest threat is to animals. But there's still cause for concern. In Asia, the species transmits a virus that proves fatal to 15% of victims and is particularly lethal to seniors. One caveat about that: Very little is known about the tick, and it's possible that the fatal virus in Asia requires another host, one that is more common there. As for the new tick, it's been spotted in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Arkansas.

"It is an aggressive biter and frequently builds intense infestations on animals causing great stress ... and blood loss," says a statement from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, per the Charlotte Observer. Other not-so-fun facts: Females don't need males to reproduce, meaning a well-fed female tick can create an entire colony on her own. And the tick apparently can survive American winters, which will make year-round vigilance necessary. The longhorned tick is so named because it has antenna-like features that look like longhorns; the problem is, you'd need a microscope to spot those "horns," a state agriculture official in Pennsylvania tells the York Daily Record. One bright spot: So far, none of the tested ticks have had pathogens related to common tick-borne ailments such as Lyme disease or babesiosis. (Maybe this type of clothing can help?)

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