Invasive Asian Longhorned Tick Found In Pennsylvania

Agency personnel uncover invasive Asian parasite in fieldwork searching for its presence.

Longhorned Tick Haemaphysalis longicornis
Longhorned Tick Haemaphysalis longicornis

HARRISBURG, PA – -( Pennsylvania’s first longhorned tick has turned up in Centre County’s Potter Township.

The identification was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL).

A single longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) was identified on an adult, male wild white-tailed deer that was euthanized on July 10, 2018, by Game Commission personnel because it was exhibiting signs consistent with chronic wasting disease (CWD), according to Dr. Justin Brown, agency wildlife veterinarian. The deer was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and no CWD prions were detected.

Ticks were collected from the deer at the laboratory as part of the Game Commission’s active longhorn tick surveillance program. The suspected longhorn tick was sent to and first identified by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Ga., and subsequently confirmed at the NVSL.

The longhorned tick, also known as the “cattle tick” or “bush tick”, is an invasive parasite native to Southeast Asia. It currently is not known when, where or how this tick was introduced into North America. However, it was first found and identified on a sheep in New Jersey during 2017. Since then, it has been identified in wild and domestic animals in other states, including Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Arkansas and North Carolina.

The longhorned tick, during its three life stages can be found on birds, wild and domestic mammals and humans. To date, the tick has been identified on goats, raccoons, horses, cattle, sheep, humans, an opossum, deer and dogs.

The longhorned tick can negatively impact the health of humans and animals both directly and indirectly. Longhorned tick infestations can reach very high numbers on an animal host, which can result in disease and, in some cases, death.

The longhorned tick, in its native range, can carry many pathogens that may cause diseases such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, theleriosis, ehrlichiosis and Powassan encephalitis in animals or humans. To date, none of these pathogens have been identified in longhorned ticks from North America. However, testing has been limited.

“The preventive measures currently used for our native ticks are the best way to protect yourself and animals from the longhorned tick,” Brown said. “They include frequent tick checks, prompt and proper removal of any attached ticks, avoiding or removing the high grasses or brush where ticks concentrate, and tick treatments.”

Concerns regarding ticks on humans or domestic animals should be addressed through consultation with a physician or veterinarian.

The recent identification of the longhorned tick in multiple states throughout the eastern United States suggests that it is likely established. Many questions remain about the ecology of this tick and the impacts it will have on the health of humans and animals.

Pennsylvania Game CommissionThe Game Commission will continue to conduct active surveillance for the longhorned tick on wildlife in collaboration with multiple state and federal agencies and academic institutions.

Additional information on the longhorned tick can be found on fact sheets provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Penn State. Longhorned tick questions concerning wildlife should be directed to the Game Commission; humans, Pennsylvania Department of Health; and domestic/agricultural animals, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

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    WhodatyJohn DunlapTimothy Votaw Recent comment authors
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    Perhaps it came over here on panda bears.

    John Dunlap
    John Dunlap

    There’s a question here that nobody has asked or answered. There’s been a steady stream of immigration and trade between the New and Old worlds since Columbus. The Norse and the Chinese were both here long before him, albeit briefly. The so called native peoples had trade routes extending across North and South America for thousands of years, and may have had occasional contact with Roman, Greek and Phoenician merchants over the centuries. There is some evidence that the Templars may have explored in North America. There is even strong evidence that somebody was mining copper in the Great Lakes… Read more »

    Timothy Votaw
    Timothy Votaw

    Yeah, wonderful. I really wonder the how and when, and who, behind these imported gifts we receive with open arms. And really, do we even take such things as serious? Sure, after the fact, we get all big-eyed and start monitoring the spread, the statistics, CDC gets in the act, and the bulletins fly. But what do we do at the ports of entry, not to mention the hundreds of thousands who get in here undetected? We already know well the strains of diseases that emanate from third world regions, the many kinds of flu, etc. Then, with the millions… Read more »