For the first time in history, a human is recorded to have been bitten by the Asian longhorned tick in the United States.
The Asian longhorned tick, also known as Haemaphysalis longicornis, didn't used to be found in the Western Hemisphere, but it appears that the tick has migrated to the United States in recent years as it has been spotted in multiple states.
Now, health officials report the first ever bite by this particular type of tick in the United States.
The First Documented Tick Bite Case
In a paper published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers reported that the tick's victim was a man who lives in Westchester County in New York. He was bitten in 2018.
Field studies revealed that the Asian longhorned tick was present in multiple locations near the patient's residence, including his lawn.
Fortunately, the man did not fall ill from the tick bite, although there are a number of lethal pathogens that can be transmitted through this tick.
Of course, it is possible that this isn't actually the first time the Asian longhorned tick has bitten someone in the country.
Rick Ostfeld, a tick specialist and senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York State, said that the tick may have previously bitten other people in the United States, but no one realized that it was a new species of tick.
More About The Asian Longhorned Tick
The first time the Asian longhorned tick was discovered in the United States was in 2017, according to CDC. As of May 2019, sightings of this species have occurred in the following states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
One of the ways that the Asian longhorned tick is particularly dangerous is that the females can reproduce without mating with a male. Each female can lay thousands of eggs, which will hatch even more females.
Additionally, the reported victim of the Asian longhorned tick revealed that he has not visited the woods in the month prior to the bite. The only places he's been were his own lawn and another lawn, which aren't usually places where people are advised to watch out for ticks. The more common United States tick, known as the blacklegged tick, is usually found in the woods and tall grass.
"We might want to expand the types of habitat types people have to be concerned about," Ostfeld said, adding that they also need to be cautious of causing "tick fatigue" and making people think they need to avoid the outdoors entirely.
CDC research entomologist Lars Eisen explained that research is ongoing to find out the various types of environments where humans can be exposed to Asian longhorned ticks.
So far, little is known of the Asian longhorned tick with experts still uncertain whether this tick is as attracted to humans as other ticks in the United States.