Aggressive and Exotic Tick Moves to Carolinas
An aggressive species of tick has been confirmed in Polk County, North Carolina. After the East Asian longhorned tick first ravaged farms in New Jersey in the fall of 2017, the exotic tick species has now been confirmed in the Carolinas.
The tick species is aggressive had not existed in the United States before last fall. Now that they have been confirmed, their rapidly spreading numbers have become a major pest for agricultural workers and farm animals across the east coast.
The species was found on a possum through the efforts of the North Carolina Department of Public Health.
What makes this tick so pervasive? While humans only move an average of 12 times throughout the course of their lives, the East Asian tick has invaded multiple states in under a year. This tick can populate without the presence of a male, meaning a single female tick can establish an aggressive population bent on biting wildlife, domestic animals, and humans alike.
There is hope, however.
Citizen scientists across the country have been collecting ticks from the bodies of humans and animals in order to get a better idea of tick prevalence across the country. Through Northern Arizona University, microbiologist Nathan Nieto aims to study how climate change has impacted the spread of ticks and what risk levels humans have in regard to tick predation.
Between 2016 and 2017, tick bite sufferers could have been sent their ticks and received a free analysis by Nieto and his team. This was an attempt to include the public for the first time in tick research. After the individual sent in their tick sample, the lab would send back a pathology report on the tick along with other information regarding your specimen.
Unfortunately, the study was limited by a lack of information regarding where people were before tick extraction. Ticks can live on the body for days before detection due to their size.
Though the researchers received hundreds of samples at a time, it was difficult to track where the ticks were more prevalent. Future iterations of the experiment may be needed in order to form conclusive answers regarding the geographic distribution of ticks in the United States.
However, scientists were able to map surprising evidence regarding this experiment. Certain tick species, akin to the discovery of the longhorned tick in North Carolina, were found in unexpected locations. This experiment mapped the Lone Star tick of the southeast all the way to Maine, an unprecedented move by the species. Additionally, 83 counties across the country were found to contain ticks with the Lyme disease pathogen that have never been seen there before.
Prevent tick infection through the use of bug sprays, DEET, and insecticides if you live in a tick-prone area.