Maryland’s first sighting of an invasive Asian tick was confirmed last month in Washington County.
Dr. Michael Radebaugh, the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s state veterinarian, said Tuesday that a longhorned tick, known as the East Asian tick, was found on a white-tailed deer killed by a vehicle.
He said he didn’t know where in the county the tick was found.
“This is a very aggressive tick,” Radebaugh said.
Scientists aren’t sure how the ticks got to the United States, he said.
Some accounts say the tick came from Asia on imported animals, such as livestock and rescue dogs.
The tick also has been found in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, New York and New Jersey.
On July 27, a National Veterinary Services Laboratory test confirmed the presence of the tick in Maryland.
According to a state news release, none of the ticks found in the United States has tested positive for carrying infectious pathogens, but the species is known to carry several diseases in its natural habitat.
As a result, Radebaugh said, officials are monitoring the situation closely and trying to find ways to keep the ticks from spreading.
He said pet and livestock owners should check their animals for a high concentration of tick bites or abnormal ticks — particularly at this time of year, when nymphs are becoming adults.
“If animals are anemic, and weak and not doing well, we certainly want to see those ticks,” he said.
The brown East Asia tick has distinctive “horns” and is hard to see with the naked eye. Like other ticks, they are usually found in tall grass, meadows, pastures and wooded areas.
They can reproduce asexually and can lay anywhere from 800 to 2,000 eggs after feeding on hosts, which include livestock, poultry, wild birds, pets, small mammals and humans.
People can protect themselves and their animals from tick bites by following the following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
• Use Environmental Protection Agency registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone.
• Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants. Treat boots, pants, socks and tents with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health program has more information about the longhorned tick and can be reached at 410-841-5810 or [email protected].
The Center for Zoonotic and Vector-borne Diseases at the Maryland Department of Health can be reached at 410-767-5649 or [email protected].
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