Asian tick moves into Va., frustrating farmers
Virginia farmers are becoming aware that there is a new tick that can cause them problems infesting their fields and woods. The tiny critter, most frequently called simply the longhorned tick, is native to several Asian countries.
It also goes by the name longhorned Asian tick. It is known to scientists as Haemaphysalis longicornis.
Like all ticks, it feeds on blood, Anne M. Zajac said. The parasitology professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech outlined some of the potential situations this tick can bring to the Old Dominion by spreading across the state and possibly bringing trouble.
She said it feeds on many kinds of animals. This includes wild animals such as deer and birds. It can also feed on livestock, pets and humans.
The longhorned tick can appear on animals in small numbers, but owners also report cases where animals have hundreds of ticks as one Southwest Virginia farm couple recently learned. When they checked on yearling cattle turned on pasture a few days before they found one animal down and covered with ticks. They called their farm vet but the distressed animal died before medical help arrived, they confirmed. They assumed this animal died from the tick infestation.
The other 36 animals on the pasture were treated according to the farm vet’s instructions and so far have not had any reported problems from hosting the ticks.
“The longhorned doesn’t always occur in these huge numbers,” Zajac reported. “There may be one or two of the small plain ticks or they may occur in large numbers.”
She confirmed that the female longhorned tick can reproduce without mating. This increased potential for one female to greatly increase the population in a short time adds to the possibility of it continuing to spread.
The Center for Disease Control is currently reporting on various news outlets that this Asian native has been found in eight states in the U. S. Since it was first found in August 2017 in New Jersey it has spread to seven more states. These are reported to be Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas.
Sources say it is now in 24 Virginia counties. They are as follows:
Zajac said people should not confuse the Asian longhorned tick and the lonestar tick (Amblyomma americanum), another tick that poses a threat to human health.
The Asian longhorned tick is known to carry diseases in its native Orient. So far it is not known to have caused any disease in humans in the U. S. officials report. The jury is still out on what it actually carries that can hurt both people and animals, experts say.
The Mayo Clinic reports that alpha-gal syndrome is a recently identified type of food allergy to red meat associated with the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum.
“In the United States, the condition most often begins when a Lone Star tick bite transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the body,” a clinic news release reported. “In some people, this triggers an immune system reaction that later produces mild to severe allergic reactions when they eat red meat.”
Reports of the Asian longhorned tick have generated a wealth of information on the internet for those wanting to know more and find pictures for identification.
People suspecting, they are dealing with this tick have been urged to report it to a vet or Extension agent immediately.
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