STATE—The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced last Tuesday that a new invasive species of tick was found on a deer in Centre County.
Known as the Asian or longhorn tick, the species “congregates in large numbers and can cause anemia in livestock,” states a department release.
It further notes, the new species “is known to carry several diseases that infect hogs and cattle in Asia.”
This new species infests hosts in large, dense clusters and can target not only cattle, but pets, small mammals, birds and humans.
The state news release mentions the species presents a particular difficulty in that, “Female Asian ticks reproduce asexually, so a single tick can reproduce and lay 2,000 eggs after feeding on a host.”
While no longhorn ticks have yet been found in Wayne County, precaution is still the best option, stated Wayne Conservation District Director, Jamie Knecht.
As the species was only discovered in New Jersey late last year, much is yet unknown about the tick, said Knecht.
“What we've been doing is trying to keep up with news reports,” she explained. “It's something we're definitely looking more into.”
In the meantime, Knecht recommended following precautions for other species of tick known to be in the area: Wear long clothes, use tick repellant sprays, and always preform a thorough tick check on oneself and any animals who have been outside.
Similarly, Marcia Barrera, Chairperson of the Wayne County Lyme Disease Task Force, cautioned that with risk for any tick-borne illnesses, “prevention should be vital.”
Citing an article published in July on lymedisease.org, Barrera mentioned treatment costs for Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses are skyrocketing.
Moreover, she explained the potential to develop chronic Lyme disease increases depending on how early or late the disease is diagnosed.
She pointed to between a 35 and 50 percent chance of those with Lyme disease contracting it chronically or persistently.
In a press release, Pennsylvania State Veterinarian, Dr. David Wolfgang, further urged precaution against the new species, explaining that “Even experts have difficulty distinguishing among tick species.”
He added, “Scientists don't yet know how this species will adapt to the North American climate and animal hosts, but we know it survived New Jersey's winter and has infested sheep and cattle in this region.”
As the longhorn tick is prone to targeting livestock, Wolfgang recommended cattle owners discuss appropriate tick preventative measures with their veterinarians.
—Information from a press release was used in this story.