The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) at UConn is reporting the identification of the Asian longhorned tick. This is the first time that CVMDL has identified this tick species. The ticks were submitted to CVMDL for identification and testing from the State of New York. Our laboratory notified New York State Animal and Public Health officials of the findings. This information was also reported to the USDA per regulations.
Ticks are disease-carrying arachnids that reside in moist areas, such as long grass and the leaf litter, and will latch onto humans and animals alike. Although there are many different species of ticks, people generally think of one tick species in particular when worrying about illness: the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). While the Deer tick is predominantly known for transmitting the agent that causes Lyme disease (the corkscrew-shaped bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi), it can also carry other disease-causing agents. A single tick can transmit more than one infectious agent.
Identification of the Asian longhorned tick at CVMDL is significant because it means their population is increasing and that presents another public health concern. Asian longhorned ticks are not traditionally found in the Western Hemisphere but were first identified here in 2017.
Although Asian longhorned ticks are not as attracted to humans as pets and livestock, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and scientists at UConn’s CVMDL encourage people to take precautions against the tick. We are still uncertain of the diseases the Asian longhorned tick carries and spreads. The CDC offers guidelines to help people prevent tick bites.
Summer in Connecticut is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. There are beautiful trails to hike, parks to visit with your children or dogs, and there is the simple joy of lying in the lush, green grass. Of course, the warm weather also comes with the New England outdoor enthusiast’s nemesis – the tick. These disease-carrying arachnids enjoy moist areas with long grass and will latch onto humans and animals alike. Although there are many different species of tick, people generally think of one tick species in particular when worrying about illness: the deer tick. While the deer tick is predominantly known for transmitting Lyme disease (caused by the spirochetal bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi) it can also carry other disease causing agents such as Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia microti. These are the causative agents of Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis respectively. A single tick has the potential to transmit one, two, or even all three of these illnesses simultaneously!
If you find a tick on yourself, your child, or your pet, remove it immediately! The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) can test the tick for pathogens. Ticks received at the CVMDL are first observed under a microscope by trained technicians to determine the species of tick, life stage, and degree of blood engorgement, all of which are factors that may impact transmission of pathogens to the person or animal. Ticks may then be tested for the DNA of pathogens that are common to that tick species. Results are reported within 3-5 business days of receiving the sample, and next day testing is available for an additional fee.