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Invasive Tick Found on Deer in Centre County

by on August 01, 2018 12:02 PM

State officials are reminding residents to take precautions for tick prevention after an invasive species was discovered on a wild deer in Centre County.

Testing by National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the tick to be an Asian, or longhorn, tick, an invasive species that congregates in large numbers and can cause anemia in livestock, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

The Asian tick has been known to carry several diseases that infect hogs and cattle in Asia. Ticks examined in the United States so far do not carry any infectious pathogens.

It's easily confused with other tick species, including the rabbit tick, which is common in Pennsylvania and the eastern U.S. and its distinctive "horns" may not be visible to the naked eye.

“Even experts have difficulty distinguishing among tick species, so it is important to take precautions to protect pets, livestock and family members from becoming a host for ticks of any kind,” State Veterinarian David Wolfgang said in a release. “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.”

Cattle, pets, small mammals, birds and humans are all potential hosts. The Asian tick infests host animals in clusters and female Asian ticks reproduce asexually, so a single tick can reproduce and lay 2,000 eggs after feeding on a host.

Native to east and central Asia, the Asian tick was first found in the U.S. last year in New Jersey. It also has been found in Arkansas, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Virginia 

“The discovery of the longhorn tick is another reminder of the importance of tick prevention for Pennsylvanians,” Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said. “Ticks can be found in your own backyard, so it is essential to wear long sleeves and pants, use insect repellant containing DEET to help keep you safe from ticks and the diseases they carry. It is also important to check yourself and your pets for ticks, as pets can bring ticks indoors.”

Pennsylvania already has issues with native ticks, leading the country with the highest number of Lyme disease cases

Wolfgang said animals should be examined on a regular basis and checked for ticks after being outside to prevent tick bites and disease transmission. 

"Livestock producers and pet owners should consult their veterinarians to develop tick prevention and control appropriate to their specific animals," the release said. "To reduce tick habitat, maintain a nine-foot distance between lawn or pasture and wooded areas, keep grass height low, and remove weeds and brush bordering wooded areas."

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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