Livestock owners in Ohio warned to be on guard after Asian Longhorned tick found – The Cincinnati Enquirer

Posted: August 11, 2020 at 2:57 am

Beth Burger, Columbus Dispatch Published 10:39 a.m. ET Aug. 8, 2020

An Asian Longhorned tick, which is potentially fatal to livestock, was found in May 2020 in Gallia County in southern Ohio. The invasive tick, which is now in 14 states, has the ability to self-reproduce, hatching up to 2,000 eggs. It is brown in color and about the size of a sesame seed.(Photo: File)

It has the capacity to wipe out livestock, cause anemia and transmit diseases.

The Asian Longhorned tick can wage a campaign of destruction even though its only the size of a sesame seed.

So far, only one of its kind has been documented in Ohio. But experts warn: One is all it takes to become established in a new habitat.

The female Asian Longhorned tick has the ability to reproduce without males. She can produce up to 2,000 eggs by herself, said Risa Pesapane, assistant professor of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State Universitys School of Environment and Natural Resources.

The Ohio tick was confirmed after a stray 7-year-old male beagle was found in late May along a road in Gallia County in southern Ohio as part of Pesapanes study.

Her study partners withGigis, a nonprofit that brings dogs from shelters to their campus in Canal Winchester, where veterinarians administer care to them.

Were using the dogs to get a better idea of the health of the dogs in the area as well as what ticks are out there. And then that can be extrapolated to other studies like public health studies, said Dr. Colleen Shocking, a veterinarian who is also the director of education, outreach, and the parvovirus treatment center at Gigis. Our role is we pull (ticks) off. We also pull some blood from the dogs, which doesnt hurt them at all. We do that anyway to check for tick diseases.

The dogs are then transferred to adoption agencies, which leads them to finding permanent homes.

Bucky the beagle, who had the Asian Longhorned tick partially engorged when he was found, now has a home.

The tick had been on the dog for a couple of days, at least. Its really impossible to know specifically where that dog was when it picked up the tick, said Pesapane, who suspects the tick likely came across the Ohio River border from West Virginia.

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The ticks can travel on wildlife, including deer and birds. While they can feed on humans, its not their preference, experts said.

There have been no documented cases of humans catching diseases from this variety of tick.

But in the laboratory, they have demonstrated that this tick can acquire and transmit Rickettsia, Pesapane said, and that can lead to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a bacterial disease that can cause fevers and a severe rash in humans.

Cattle attacked by Asian Longhorned ticks are at risk of contracting Theileria, a blood-borne parasite that can cause anemia, which can be fatal.

Researchers are looking at a well-established population of Asian Longhorned ticks in Virginia where there was an outbreak. The two are likely linked, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

That is what causes severe anemia and illness in cattle. So we do have one instance where a natural population of this tick was vectoring disease, but not to dogs and not to people, Pesapane said.

Even without the tick transmitting diseases, cattle owners should be vigilant, she said.

You get these really heavy infestations and even in absence of a vector-borne disease, they still could cause substantial blood loss in cattle and stress, Pesapane said.

The tick, which is native to east Asia, has been in the U.S. since 2010, said Denise Bonilla, a veterinary services entomologist with the USDA.

There was no smoking gun, she said. We know that from some of the population genetics work being done by several different universities that there was definitely more than one introduction in the United States, but we dont know how those happened.

Ohio and Rhode Island are the latest states where the tick has been found. That brings the total to 14 states, which also includes Kentucky and Pennsylvania. There have been no reports in Indiana or Michigan yet.

I dont think that people should be scared of this. You keep a good eye on your animals, Bonillasaid. You make sure that you practice looking at yourself and your family for ticks when youve been out in the environment, and doing quick tickremoval.

The ticks are the size of a period at the end of a sentence when theyre born. They move quickly, similar to spiders. Experts recommend keeping grass cut and brush removed to keep ticks at bay.

Experts warn that Ohio will continue to see more types of ticks and the population will likely increase due to symptoms of climate change with warming temperatures.

This is definitely thought to be linked to climate change as the warming climate allows habitats to be more suitable for these ticks, and the winters arent as harsh. You have more calendar days of the year that are above 40 degrees when the ticks are out looking for hosts, Pesapane said. Youre getting more encounters with people who are out enjoying the weather.

If cattle producers spot unusual-looking ticks or large infestations, notify your veterinarian or contact the Ohio Department of Agricultures Division of Animal Health at 614-728-6220.

This report was provided by the Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA TODAY Network.

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