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Researchers find first Asian longhorned tick in Tennessee


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Researchers recently discovered the first Asian longhorned tick in Tennessee; first seen in New Jersey in 2017, it has now spread to 11 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there is no evidence that the tick has yet transmitted pathogens to humans or animals in the United States.

“An animal shelter collected some ticks for us, and within their collection, there were two (Asian longhorned tick) nymphs identified from canines. We recently collected adults and females from a cow in another county,” said Dr. Rebecca Trout Fryxell, medical and veterinary entomologist with the University of Tennessee, who made the announcement along with the state departments of Agriculture and Health and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“This becomes a good opportunity to remind ourselves that all ticks are important,” she said. “We have a lot of ticks in Tennessee; some are specific to animals, some to humans, some of them even like reptiles instead of mammals. Just knowing there is a diversity of tick species in the state is important, and then that each one has their own pathogen groups.”

Some ticks don’t carry pathogens, she said. In other areas, the Asian longhorned tick can transmit pathogens, but so far in this country none of the ticks have tested positive for pathogens.

Dr. Tony Forshey, chief of the Ohio Division of Animal Health, thinks the Asian longhorned tick will carry diseases. The other unique thing about it is that the female lays thousands of eggs (Trout-Fryxell called it a “tick mass”) and they don’t require mating to reproduce.

So, all those thousands of eggs keep hatching. They are not host-specific and will land on pets, people, wildlife, and livestock.

The most problematic are the black-legged, Lone Star, and American dog ticks, said Barbara Bloetscher. Ohio apiarist/entomologist for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“The American dog tick is on dogs and a lot of other warm-blooded animals, including us,” she said. “The Lone Star tick is probably a little more host-specific. The black-legged tick is found on white-footed and other small mice, chipmunks, and deer.”

The black-legged, or deer, tick causes Lyme disease, but they don’t cause any disease in the deer themselves, Forshey said. Also, the consumption of meat from these deer cannot transmit Lyme disease to humans; Lyme disease only comes from a tick bite. If a hunter is field-dressing a deer with ticks on it, the hunter comes in close contact with those ticks and should take precautions.

Forshey said, “When I lecture veterinary students, I ask them what they think most dangerous animal in the world is. The answer is mosquitoes and ticks, because they carry so many diseases.”

As precautions against ticks, Glen Needham, Ohio State University associate professor of entomology, advises:

•Apply tick repellants (DEET/Permethrin) on clothing

•Tuck pants in socks, shirt in pants

•Do thorough tick-checks daily

•Remove and save attached crawling ticks that can help connect symptoms with tick-borne disease

•Use veterinarian-approved anti-tick products, and test and vaccinate pets for Lyme disease

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