A New Tick Is Coming To Town
As if we didn't have enough ticks and tick diseases, like Lyme, already in Indiana, there is a new tick making its way across the country. First identified on a ewe (sheep) in New Jersey in 2017, the new species of tick has made its way into at least 14 states now and is approaching Indiana. Most recently it has been identified in Kentucky and Ohio. On a bull in the Bluegrass state there were large numbers of this tick making the animal anemic from blood loss.
So, who is this new tick in town? The common name is the Asian longhorned tick, or Heamaphysalis longicornis to you biology majors. It is well known on the Korean peninsula but how it traveled to the USA is anyone's guess. It will prey on a multitude of species, both wildlife and domestic, in addition to humans. The little critter is reddish-brown with no distinctive markings and smaller than the common American dog tick we see frequently around here. In Asia it is known to carry diseases harmful to animals, but here in the states, no specific diseases have been identified from these ticks, yet.
A disturbing feature of the Asian longhorned tick is that it can reproduce via parthenogenesis, meaning the female does not need a male to lay and hatch thousands of offspring. Perhaps this is why the tick is spreading so fast and why several thousand ticks can be found on one animal. This is predicted to be of major concern to white-tailed deer and livestock. If you find an unusually large number of ticks on your livestock or pet, contact your veterinarian or your county extension agent to collect samples and submit for identification. A tick can be put into rubbing alcohol to preserve it.
Daily tick checks on family members is good prevention for all ticks and tick diseases. On pets there are a variety of tick preventives on the market with the monthly oral products showing the greatest efficacy. From 2004 to 2016 there was a three-fold increase of reported tick disease cases in humans in the USA. At our veterinary hospital we have found cases of Lyme Disease increasing to the point that it is typical to have 2-3 dogs test positive for Lyme each week.
October is a special parasite prevention month at Laughery Valley Veterinary Hospital. We are daily communicating to clients about preventing ticks, fleas, heartworms and intestinal worms. Contact us to help your pet live its best life now with satisfaction guaranteed parasite prevention all year round.
Harley Robinson, DVM