A hardy and invasive tick species that survived a new Jersey winter have mysteriously arrived in Arkansas. Entomologists are now trying to find out how the bug managed to get there.
The Arkansas Agriculture Department revealed on Monday that researchers at the Oklahoma State University confirmed that a tick found on a dog in Benton County was a Longhorned tick, a species native to East Asia.
The bug has been previously reported only in New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia.
"It's a mystery to a lot of people who are trying to figure out how exactly it got here," said Jeff Wolfe, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
Carrier Of Potentially Deadly Diseases
Just like other species of ticks, the Longhorned tick can carry diseases that can pose threat to both animals and humans.
The New Jersey and the Arkansas departments of agriculture, however, said that they have not received any report of diseases in humans or animals possibly caused by Longhorned ticks.
Longhorned ticks can have a devastating effect on livestock. Animals with high Longhorned tick densities may suffer from anemia and stunted growth. In rare cases, the animals can be drained of too much blood, which can be fatal for the animals.
Cody Burkham, Arkansas Cattlemen's Association executive vice president, advised livestock producers to watch out for an increase in body temperature, droopy ears and lack of appetite in animals. Some infected livestock, however, may still appear well while still battling an infection.
Severe Fever With Thrombocytopenia Syndrome
The ticks are also known to carry a virus that can cause deadly diseases for humans, such as the severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome.
Symptoms of the condition include a headache, vomiting, fever, muscle pain, multiple organ failures, thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), and low white blood cell count. The disease has a fatality rate of up to 30 percent.
These bugs can also carry Ehrlichia, Borrelia, and Anaplasma. It is also possible that they can transmit other local diseases such as the Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Dealing with this invasive species can be particularly challenging because it can be parthenogenetic, which means these ticks can reproduce asexually, essentially cloning themselves. They are also very small, so they can easily go unnoticed.
The Arkansas Agriculture Department advised the public to use standard prevention methods to avoid the ticks. These include wearing EPA- approved repellents, conducting tick checks, and tucking in clothing.