CDC warns of Asian longhorned tick infestation

An invasive tick that’s native to Asia has popped up in New York and eight other states — and health officials are warning it could spread dangerous diseases to humans and animals.

The Asian longhorned tick popped up first in New Jersey in August 2017 but has since been reported in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

They’ve been found on pets, livestock, wildlife and people.

Unlike most tick species, longhorned ticks are capable of reproducing asexually and a female can lay as many as 2,000 eggs at a time without ever mating.

“As a result, hundreds to thousands of ticks can be found on a single animal, person, or in the environment,” the CDC warned on its website.

Longhorned ticks are common in New Zealand and Australia, where they’ve been known to reduce production in dairy cattle by 25 percent.

Researchers are still trying to determine how harmful the tick is in the US.

“The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown,” said Ben Beard, deputy director of the 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.”

The agency said those who believe they’ve found an Asian longhorned tick should remove it immediately, save it in rubbing alcohol in a jar or ziplock bag and contact the local health department.

The reddish-brown species of tick can spread serious diseases, like the bacterial infections babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, theileriosis and rickettsiosis, and certain viral diseases, according to Live Science.

In China and Japan, the tick has been known to cause a potentially deadly disease called severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome.

As of last month, no longhorned ticks found in the US have been linked to disease, the CDC said.

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