Unlike other ticks, a single female Asian longhorned tick can reproduce offspring-1,000 to 2,000 eggs at a time-without mating, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a press release yesterday on the study.
A species of tick native to Asia is spreading across the United States, according to a new report.
"The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown", said Ben Beard, deputy director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases.
In a statement following the discovery of the Asian long-horned tick in a North Carolina county, the state's department of agriculture and consumer services warned residents the species is "an aggressive biter" and "frequently builds intense infestations on animals causing great stress, reduced growth and production, and blood loss".
Among the 546 counties or county equivalents in the nine states, ticks were reported in 45 counties (8%, or 1.4% of all 3,109 USA counties and equivalents), the report said.
But whether longhorned ticks in the USA can spread diseases is not known, because the types of diseases ticks spread can vary depending on their environment.
"These [findings] represent sentinels that H. longicornis is present in different US states and regions, and not a comprehensive assessment of the distribution of H. longicornis in the United States", the authors conclude.
The CDC is working with public health, agricultural, and academic experts to understand the possible threat posed by the spread of this invasive tick species. Some of the infections that are carried by ticks as vectors include Anaplasma, Borrelia, Ehrlichia, Babesia and Rickettsia. Arkansas is the only non-eastern state to house the tick.
Determine what new laboratory tests are needed to detect pathogens that could be introduced or spread by these ticks in the United States.
Determine effective prevention and control strategies.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. People are advised to take showers within two hours of a visit to a tick infested area and also inspect their bodies carefully for presence of ticks. Place tick-infested clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. Those owning dogs, domestic animals or farm animals need to consult with their veterinary doctors to keep their pets and livestock safe from ticks.