East asian longhorned tick

First US human bite from worrying longhorned tick noted

In a report last week, researchers described the first human in the United States known to be bitten by an Asian longhorned tick, a rapidly spreading invasive species that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned about last year.

Though the 66-year-old man did not get sick, scientists know that Haemaphysalis longicornis can harbor bacteria that can cause human and animal diseases—possibly including Lyme disease—and an investigation into areas where the man lived found the tick in locations other ticks aren’t typically found, which could lead to changes in public health risk messaging.

A team from the CDC, New York, and New Jersey reported the findings on May 31 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The tick was found in the United States for the first time in 2017 on a sheep in New Jersey, and since then, the species has been found in at least 10 states, mainly in the eastern states but also Arkansas. It’s still not known how widespread Asian longhorned ticks are in the United States, but health officials are worried, because they are aggressive biters.

Females can produce massive numbers of offspring without mating, and in some parts of the world—such as New Zealand and Australia—the species have reduced production in dairy cattle by 25%.

Ticks found on sunny lawns

According to the new report, a 66-year-old man from Yonkers, New York, removed a tick from his leg in June 2018. He had not traveled outside his home county for the past 30 days, and his only outdoor exposure was his lawn and one other lawn in the same area. His doctor prescribed him a single 200-milligram dose of doxycycline, presuming that the tick was Ixodes scapularis, the most common US Lyme vector.

Later that day, the patient took the tick to the Lyme Disease Diagnostic Center in Westchester, New York. He didn’t have any symptoms at the time and didn’t get sick over the next 3 months.

Testing in New York identified the tick as an Asian longhorned tick nymph, with genetic sequencing adding more evidence affirming the finding. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, further confirmed the finding.

Tick sampling using corduroy drag cloths found Asian longhorned ticks on the patient’s manicured lawn, some of them in direct sun. More were found in the park across the street from the patient’s house, both in open, cut grass exposed to direct sun and in taller, shaded grass next to the woods. Testing also found ticks on a nearby public trail, in mowed short and midlength grass near the trail edge, both in full sun and partial shade. The discovery of the ticks near the man’s house were the first known collections in New York state.

The authors wrote that finding the ticks on manicured lawns and in open sun may be significant, because public education efforts often stress that Ixodes scapularis ticks—the most common biting tick in New York state—are found in wooded areas or shaded grass.

Next steps for ongoing threat

In a related editorial in the same issue, Bobbi Pritt, MD, MSC, with the division of clinical microbiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, wrote that though the report of a human bite isn’t surprising, it proves that the invasive longhorned tick continues to bite hosts in its newest location.

“This is extremely worrisome for several reasons,” she wrote. One reason is that Asian longhorned ticks can carry several important human pathogens, including the potentially fatal severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) virus and Rickettsia japonica, which cases Japanese spotted fever. “While these pathogens have yet to be found in the United States, there is a risk of their future introduction,” she added.

Also, Pritt said several other human pathogens have been detected in the ticks, but it’s not clear the Asian longhorned species are able to transmit them to humans. They include Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, and Borrelia species. Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.

She warned that the organisms are present in states where longhorned ticks have been found and that it’s possible that the tick—known to be an aggressive biter—might be able to transmit Heartland virus, given its close relationship to SFTS virus.

Pritt said it’s clear that the invasive species is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and next steps should include public awareness campaigns that incorporate the new information, easy-to-use resources for labs to identify the tick, and more research to understand the implications of the new findings.

See also:

May 31 Clin Infect Dis abstract

May 31 Clin Infect Dis commentary

Nov 30, 2018, CIDRAP News story “CDC: Worrisome longhorned tick spreading rapidly in US”

Asian Longhorned Tick is a New Emerging Disease Threat, Says CDC

The detection of the Haemaphysalis longicornis tick in several states has brought to light a new emerging threat to public health. It is critical to determine the potential public health and agricultural impacts that the ticks can cause, as this information is currently unknown.
H longicornis, also referred to as the Asian longhorned tick because of its roots in Asia, can transmit diseases—including Rickettsia, Borrelia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Theileria—to animals and humans.
The tick was detected for the first time in New Jersey in August 2017, and again in the spring of 2018 at the same site. However, through surveillance conducted by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plan Inspection Service, with assistance from local and state health officials, investigators determined that H longicornis was collected from a deer in West Virginia in 2010, and a dog in New Jersey in 2013, indicating the tick has been present in the country longer than initially thought.
Through surveillance, investigators determined that H longicornis was detected in 8 states, in addition to New Jersey, between 2017 and 2018. Positive identifications have been made in New Jersey (16; 30%), Virginia (15; 28%), West Virginia (11; 21%), New York (3; 6%), North Carolina (3; 6%), Pennsylvania (2; 4%), Connecticut (1; 2%), Arkansas (1; 2%) and Maryland (1; 2%), according to a new article published in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Despite the presence of H longicornis, there have been no cases of illness in humans or other species, according to the report. Still, the presence of this dangerous tick exposes a need for surveillance measures and actions to prevent disease transmission before its onset in humans and other animal species.

The Asian longhorned tick is new to the United States and has the potential to spread germs. People should take steps to protect themselves, their pets, and livestock from this and other ticks. Learn more in @CDCMMWR: https://t.co/bdC3CEFJyK?rel=0″ ?rel=0″ pic.twitter.com/Cj8CEPi2Uj

— Dr. Robert R. Redfield (@CDCDirector) November 30, 2018
According to the authors of the report, surveillance for the tick will involve efforts from a multitude of health officials on the federal, state, and local level. Surveillance should include adequate sampling of companion animals, commercial animals, wildlife, and the environment.
“Where H longicornis is detected, there should be testing for a range of indigenous and exotic viral, bacterial, and protozoan tickborne pathogens potentially transmitted by H longicornis,” the authors wrote.
Some limitations of the report include that there were limited surveillance methods used to determine the presence of the ticks, due to the availability of information and potential biases in collection and submission of samples. Additionally, the number of cases included in the report reflect specimens that were positively identified via morphology or molecular barcoding.
In response to this threat, state and federal agencies are evaluating different intervention options, including insecticide and acaricide sensitivity testing. In addition, to increased surveillance, several states have distributed information about the ticks to the public, and have developed hotlines and methods to collect ticks submitted for identification.
>> READ: First Report of East Asian Tick Species in the United States
>> READ: New Aggressive Tick Species Is Spreading Through the United States To stay informed on the latest in infectious disease news and developments, please sign up for our weekly newsletter.

The Asian longhorned tick — Haemaphysalis longicornis — “is a tick indigenous to Asia, where it is an important vector of human and animal disease agents,” warned a research team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The tick species has already turned up in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, where it’s been found on domestic animals and wildlife, and at least two people, the researchers said.

Even though no U.S. cases of human disease have yet been attributed to the tick, it’s a known vector for hemorrhagic fever in humans. As such, the Asian longhorned tick is considered “a new and emerging disease threat,” according to a team led by C. Ben Beard, of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Ticks are already the bane of Americans everywhere, with bites being prime causes of severe illness such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, Powassan encephalitis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other infections.

Now the newly introduced species brings the specter of another very serious illness, called “severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus” (SFTSV). This tick-borne disease quickly brings on serious hemorrhagic fever. It first emerged in China but has since been spotted in South Korea and Japan.

As described by Chinese researchers in a 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea and anemia. In some cases multiple organ failure can result, and 12 percent of cases prove fatal.

The tick can also spread a virus known to cause Japanese spotted fever in humans, another potentially fatal illness that brings very high fever and red rash. The CDC believes the insect can also be a vector for numerous other ailments, including Powassan virus.

Beard’s team stressed that, so far, no such cases of SFTSV or Japanese spotted fever linked to the Asian longhorned tick have been reported in the United States.

What you need to know about Asian longhorned ticks – A new tick in the United States

What we know about Asian longhorned ticks

  • Not normally found in the Western Hemisphere, these ticks were reported for the first time in the United States in 2017.
  • Asian longhorned ticks have been found on pets, livestock, wildlife, and people.
  • The female ticks can lay eggs and reproduce without mating.
  • Up to thousands of ticks may be found at a time, or on an animal.

What we know about Asian longhorned ticks in the U.S.

  • In other countries, bites from these ticks can make people and animals seriously ill. As of August 1, 2019, no harmful germs that can infect people have been found in the ticks collected in the United States. Research is ongoing.
  • Researchers are looking for these ticks to find out where they live.
  • As of August 1, 2019, longhorned ticks have been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

What you should do if you think you have found an Asian longhorned tick

  • Remove any tick from people and animals as quickly as possible.
  • Save the ticks in rubbing alcohol in a jar or a ziplock bag, then:
    • Contact your health department about steps you can take to prevent tick bites and tickborne diseases.
    • Contact a veterinarian for information about how to protect pets from ticks and tick bites.
    • Contact your state agriculture department or local agricultural extension office about ticks on livestock or for tick identification.

Fact sheet: What you need to know about Asian longhorned ticks (Print only) pdf icon


Asian longhorned tick videosexternal icon from the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases

6 Things You Need to Know About the Asian Longhorned Tick

A new tick species known as Haemaphysalis longicornis, or the Asian longhorned tick, has made its way into the United States, making it the first new invasive tick species found in North America in close to 50 years.

Ticks have become a growing concern for public health officials as tick bites and tick-borne diseases more than tripled in the United States between 2004 and 2016 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There were more than 70,000 cases of diseases spread by ticks in this country in 2016.

The Asian longhorned tick is concerning because it can carry a virus that’s caused illness and even death in people in eastern Asian, says Mark J. Soloski, PhD, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “Fortunately, there have been no pathogens found to be associated with this particular tick so far in the United States,” he says.

Although this is good news, the potential for the tick to carry diseases that could infect humans and animals here has health officials keeping a close eye. Here are six things that experts know so far about the Asian longhorned tick:

1. In what states have Asian longhorned ticks been spotted?

According to the CDC, the tick has been found in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas.

A CDC-sponsored study, published in April 2019 in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found that the tick could likely spread and live throughout most regions in the United States because of a “combination of suitable habitat types, a plethora of host species, and high humidity.”

2. Has the tick made people sick in other parts of the world?

In Asia, the tick carries a virus that causes human hemorrhagic fever, which can be life-threatening. In 2013, South Korea had 36 reported cases of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), including 17 deaths from SFTS virus, carried by the Asian longhorn tick. Thrombocytopenia means low levels of platelets, which are necessary to help the blood to clot normally; a major drop in platelets can cause internal bleeding and organ failure. Besides fever, symptoms included gastrointestinal symptoms and fatigue, according to the abstract of a study published in November 2014 in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In Australia and New Zealand, the ticks feed on livestock and can cause babesiosis and theileriosis, but don’t carry any diseases to humans.

3. Is there a risk the ticks will eventually spread viruses and bacteria here?

A tick bite only makes a person sick if the tick is carrying a pathogen that it picked up from a blood meal on another host, says Dr. Soloski. “For example, in human Lyme disease, the tick that most likely transmitted the disease to a human acquired the bacteria from a prior blood meal from a mouse,” says Soloski. The tick has to get the infection from feeding on another host in order to pass it on to humans via a tick bite, he explains.

So far, no Asian longhorned tick that’s been found and analyzed in the United States has had any pathogens found associated with it, according to Soloski. “It’s possible that the Asian longhorned tick found here won’t carry the same types of pathogens (or any pathogens) as it has in other parts world, but we are paying attention to it,” he says.

One reason health officials are concerned is that the SFTS virus that this tick can carry is related to the Heartland virus (they both belong to the genus Phlebovirus), which is found in the Midwest and Southern U.S. states and is transmitted by the lone star tick.

4. How do these ticks differ from other ticks found in the United States?

“Most ticks, such as the deer tick (which can transmit Lyme disease), produce eggs through male and female mating, then the fertilized eggs are generated,” says Soloski. In the case of the Asian longhorned deer tick, it has evolved parthenogenesis, which means it produces fertile eggs without having the need for a male around, he says. “That’s a concern because then these ticks can produce large numbers of eggs in a very short period of time and spread quite quickly,” says Soloski.

According to the CDC, a single female tick can reproduce up to 2,000 eggs at a time without mating. As a result, hundreds to thousands of ticks can be found on a single animal, person, or in the environment. Because of the sheer numbers of ticks that can prey on hosts, this tick can reduce production in dairy cattle by 25 percent.

5. Do the standard precautions for tick prevention work for the Asian longhorned tick?

Studies are ongoing to determine how well tick prevention products currently available in the United States will work against Asian longhorned ticks, says CDC spokesperson Thomas Skinner.

For now, Skinner and Soloski suggest taking typical measures that the CDC recommends to prevent tick bites. Soloski recommends being “tick savvy,” which includes commonsense clothing, tick repellent, and frequent tick checks when spending time outdoors.

6. What should you do if you suspect you or your pet has been bitten by an Asian longhorned tick?

If you find a tick attached to your skin or on your pet, you should safely remove the tick as soon as possible, according to the CDC. Save the tick in rubbing alcohol in a jar or ziplock bag and contact your health department, doctor, or veterinarian.

If you find a tick on yourself or your pet and think it might be an Asian longhorned tick, you should also try to contact your local agricultural extension office and tell them, says Soloski. “That’s one way we get information: It’s called citizen science,” he says.

The problem is finding answers. It’s a truism among tick researchers that their work is underfunded compared with other insect vectors. After all, the US public health system was founded on fighting mosquitoes: The first local health department, created in Philadelphia in 1794, rose out of a devastating yellow fever epidemic the year before. The CDC itself emerged from a World War II program created to suppress malaria in the South, where the illness had wreaked havoc on war preparations, leaving soldiers unfit for duty and taking equipment manufacturing offline

To this day, the CDC maintains national maps of the ranges of different mosquito species. States, counties, and cities operate more than 700 mosquito-abatement districts, and the American Mosquito Control Association estimates those agencies collectively spend $200 million a year on catching, analyzing, and killing the bugs. Ticks don’t get anywhere near that kind of coordinated attention or money. The Entomological Society of America warned four years ago that the US needs comprehensive anti-tick strategies, but only a few states, such as New York in 2018 and Connecticut this year, have even created tick surveillance and control programs.

There’s good reason to do that: Ticks and the diseases they transmit—not just Lyme disease, but babesiosis, erlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and others—represent a huge public health problem. Last year, the CDC reported that cases of disease carried by insects tripled between 2004 and 2016; three-fourths of those cases were caused by ticks. In the period of that study, the CDC identified seven diseases that ticks pass to humans, several of them fatal, that were either brand-new, or new to the US.

When those diseases are diagnosed in people, the CDC requires them to be reported to the agency so the data can be summarized and mapped. But tick scientists such as Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York, have said for years that what is most needed is routine catching and sampling of ticks themselves, as is done by mosquito control agencies, to figure out what species are hatching and what diseases they may carry.

At the moment, Ostfeld says, tick surveillance is driven by the interests of academic scientists. “It’s very much a patchwork,” he says. “You tend to find ticks in the study sites of people who are looking for them, but that leaves vast parts of the country completely unstudied.”

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Ben Beard, a medical entomologist who is deputy director of the CDC’s division of vector-borne diseases (“vector” is shorthand for “insects that transmit diseases when they bite”), says that is beginning to change. “We have funded state health departments to begin efforts for tick surveillance,” he says.

The primary source is a CDC program called “epidemiology and laboratory capacity funding,” which sends about $200 million a year to all 50 state health departments; $16 million of that goes for all diseases carried by insects. Until recently the funds were locked to specific projects, but this year the CDC agreed to allow states more latitude in how they spend the money. The result will be a map, by state and possibly by county, of ticks and the pathogens they carry, which the CDC plans to publish once a year.

Beard said it isn’t possible to say at this point how many jurisdictions will choose to concentrate on ticks or how much of that $16 million will be spent on tracking them. So the surveillance picture is likely to have gaps, but “over time it should transform the patchwork to something that is more systematic and complete.” (The CDC has also funded five “centers of excellence” at universities to increase work on diseases carried by insects, including ticks.)

That’s a beginning—though, given the speed at which ticks are emerging and tickborne diseases are increasing, it seems likely not to be enough. What’s needed are investments in tick biology and ecology, and investigations into how ticks arrive in new territory and what carries them around.

The CDC’s data, limited as it is, shows that ticks are getting ahead of us. It’s past time that we tried to catch up.

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Longhorned Tick Now Confirmed: NJ, VA, WV, AR, NC, NY, PA, CT, NH, KY, MD, & TN

I. scapularis on top (nymph, male, female), poppy seeds in middle and Haemaphysalis longicornis (nymph, female) on bottom. Thanks to J. Occi, Rutger The Lyme Disease Association reports that according to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, the Haemaphysalis longicornis tick (otherwise known as the East Asian or Longhorned tick) was found in Virginia, appearing on an orphaned calf on a beef farm in Albemarle County. The longhorned tick has since been identified in Warren County. As of 5/21/18, the tick has been confirmed in West Virginia, and 6/12/18, the tick has also been found in Arkansas, and in July 2018 in Westchester County, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Kentucky. Connecticut and New Hampshire have also confirmed the tick in 2018. And most recently, in Tennessee in May 2019 in Union and Roane Counties. October 2019, the tick was detected in an additional six Tennessee counties: Knox, Jefferson, Claiborne, Cocke, Putnam, and Sevier.

H. longicornis was initially confirmed in Hunterdon County, NJ, on November 9, 2017 on a sheep farm, and a mystery still surrounds its appearance. The species survived the winter and was confirmed again in NJ in April 2018. There is no known direct link from the Virginia farm to the New Jersey farm. (In addition to the Hunterdon County farm, the Longhorned tick has been confirmed in other parts of NJ: the Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s Cook Campus farm in Middlesex County, and the National Veterinary Services Laboratory recently confirmed a tick taken from a dog in Union County in 2013 was also a Longhorned tick. June 5, 2018, National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the Longhorned tick was found at a location in northern Mercer County. July 21, Longhorned tick found in Bergen County.)

The longhorned tick is self-cloning, and is already known to transmit several human diseases, including spotted fever rickettsiosis, in its native East Asian countries – China, Japan and Australia. It may be only a matter of time before they become carriers of tick-borne diseases that affect humans.

UPDATE: Longhorned tick spreading – NOW CONFIRMED IN 12 STATES

10/17/2019 Invasive Tick Detected in Six Additional Tennessee Counties

5/24/2019 ag.tennessee.edu Invasive Tick Detected in Tennessee

5/16/19 wlwt.com Notorious Asian longhorned tick now reported in Kentucky (confirmed in 2018)

11/6/18 vnews.com New Species of Tick Found in New Hampshire

10/1/18 ctpost.com First person bitten by east Asian longhorned tick (in CT)

8/7/18 maryland.gov First Confirmed Longhorned Tick Found in Maryland

7/31/18 phillyvoice.com Invasive longhorned tick species confirmed in Pennsylvania

7/17/18 wgrz.com A new, dangerous tick found in New York

7/12/18 Charlotte Observer New ‘exotic’ tick invades NC, and it’s an ‘aggressive biter.’ How far has it spread?

7/1/18 nj.com This invasive tick is cloning itself. Rutgers DNA researchers are racing to contain it.

6/12/18 4029tv.com First Longhorned Tick confirmed in Arkansas

6/1/18 The Winchester Star Exotic invasive tick found on Warren County horses (Virginia)

5/23/18 info on Longhorned tick in West Virginia

Related Articles – Longhorned Tick in NJ:

7/21/18 northjersey.com Exotic Longhorned tick found in Bergen County

6/5/18 mycentraljersey.com Longhorned tick spreads to Mercer County

5/10/18 NBC, NY Longhorned Tick Mysteriously Invades New Jersey, Has Already Spread

5/7/18 mnn.com This Self-cloning Tick Now Calls N.J. Home: Longhorned Tick Survived the Winter and is Poised to Spread

4/21/18 LDA website Longhorned Ticks Survived the NJ Winter: Invasive Species May Be Established

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