An exotic, aggressive East Asian tick that first turned up in the U.S. in New Jersey last fall has now been confirmed to be in North Carolina, according to agriculture officials.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the longhorned tick on an opossum in Polk County.
(Video above explains how to avoid ticks)
The tick has been previously identified in Arkansas, New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia.
“We are working with the USDA, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, our field staff and veterinarians to help raise awareness of ticks and tick prevention,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The good news is that the Longhorned ticks respond to insecticides used to control other common species of ticks on pets and livestock.”
Prior to its discovery last fall in New Jersey, the longhorned tick had not been found in the U.S., officials said. It is a serious pest of livestock in its native regions and how it was introduced into the country is unknown.
Its presence in North Carolina signals the need among livestock producers and residents for greater awareness, surveillance, and tick control management.
It is an aggressive biter and frequently builds intense infestations on animals causing extreme stress, blood loss and reduced growth and production.
The tick can reproduce parthenogenetically -- without a male -- and a single fed female tick can create a localized population.
It is a known or suspected carrier of several viral, bacterial and protozoan agents of livestock and human diseases. Known as a three-host tick, this tick can spread pathogens among diverse hosts.
While the longhorned tick has not yet been linked to any human infection in the U.S., the North Carolina Division of Public Health is working with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to understand its distribution and monitor for diseases it may carry.
The tick was found during at effort by the North Carolina Department of Public Health to identify ticks in all 100 counties of the state.
Veterinarians are asked to submit ticks they find on clinical patients to help track and identify tick populations in North Carolina
Ticks attack all domestic animals, wildlife and people. The best way to control diseases spread by ticks is early removal. Prevention remains the best method to deter tick-borne illnesses. Showering immediately once you return home and checking for ticks can help to deter tick attachment. Protect yourself while outdoors by wearing long clothing, wearing permethrin-treated clothing, and using DEET, picaridin and other EPA-approved repellents. Consult your veterinarian about options to treat your pets and livestock for ticks.