Longhorned Tick Discovered in North Carolina

— Written By

Dr. Douglas Meckes, State Veterinarian of North Carolina, and Dr. Carl Williams, State Public Health Veterinarian of North Carolina, wish to make you aware of the following:

NCDA&CS Veterinary Division announces finding the Longhorned tick in North Carolina

Haemaphysalis longicornis, an exotic East Asian tick, has never previously established a population in the U.S. On June 25, 2018, the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa confirmed the finding of the H. longicornis tick (otherwise known as the East Asian or Longhorned tick) in North Carolina. The tick was found on an opossum in Polk County.

In late 2017, H. longicornis was initially identified in New Jersey. H. longicornis is morphologically similar to the rabbit tick, Haemaphysalis leporispalustris, which is found in the U.S. Entomology labs have reviewed samples of submitted ticks back to 2008 and now show the initial U.S. case was found on a white-tailed deer in Tyler County, West Virginia in August 2010. North Carolina is the fifth state where the tick has been reported (Arkansas, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Virginia are the other states). No known direct link exists from the Polk County case to the cases reported in other states.

North Carolina state veterinary officials will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other state, federal, and industry partners to determine the extent and significance of this finding.

several life stages and views of longhorned tickThe North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) is asking veterinarians to be alert for the presence of H. longicornis on domestic animals. The adult Longhorned tick is dark brown in color and grows to the size of a pea when engorged. The other life stages are very small and difficult to see with the naked eye (see images to the right).

The current host list for this tick includes: dog, cow, goat, sheep, white-tailed deer, opossum, raccoon and horse. It is a known serious pest of livestock in the Australasian and Western Pacific Regions where it naturally occurs. It is an aggressive biter and frequently produces significant infestations on domestic hosts causing great stress, reduced growth and production, and exsanguination. As the tick can reproduce parthenogenetically (without a male), a single fed female tick can create a local population quickly. While human vectorborne disease pathogens such as spotted fever group rickettsiae and Ehrlichia chaffeensis have been recovered from individual Longhorned tick specimens, it remains to be seen if this tick will serve as a vector for these organisms in the U.S. People should continue to utilize standard tick avoidance strategies for themselves and animals in their care to protect against this tick and other native species. This document provides a comprehensive list of diseases isolated from this tick. The Longhorned tick has been found to be susceptible to common acaricides used to control other tick species in the U.S. It is a three-host tick which may make it difficult to manage and eliminate from environments. Please work with your clients to develop a comprehensive parasite control program.

For more information, please visit the links below.