First identified in 2009 in China, SFTS has since killed 35 people in South Korea in 2013 and according to the CDC, between 6 and 30% of those infected with SFTS die. Thus far, the longhorned ticks are not identified as carriers of the virus, but research is ongoing. One of the scariest facts about the female Asian longhorned tick is that it can reproduce without mating. Scientists believe that it’s only a matter of time before they carry dangerous, and even fatal, viruses and bacteria.
According to the CDC, the number of illnesses from tick-borne diseases has tripled over the past 12 years. “Zika, West Nile, Lyme and chikungunya – a growing list of diseases caused by an infected mosquito, tick or flea have confronted the U.S. in recent years. We don’t know what will threaten Americans next,” says the CDC. Warmer climates and changing weather are part of what has caused this exploding number of ticks, mosquitos and fleas, scientists say. Climate change has also begun to greatly enlarge the geographical range where ticks are both active and dangerous.
Tick expert Brian Kelly of East End Tick and Mosquito Control has stated the following regarding the Asian longhorned tick: “A new year brings new concerns. While there haven’t been any diseases detected in the Asian Longhorned tick as of yet, research is ongoing and the time to act is now.”
The CDC recommends taking the following steps if you think you have found an Asian longhorned tick:
- Remove ticks properly from people and animals as quickly as possible.
- Save the tick in rubbing alcohol and save in a jar or ziplock bag then take the following steps:
- Contact your health department about steps you can take to prevent tick bites and tick borne diseases.
- Contact a veterinarian for information about how to protect pets from ticks and tick bites.
- Contact your state agriculture department or local agricultural extension office about ticks on livestock or for tick identification.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Asian longhorned tick, we suggest printing out the CDC’s “What you need to know about Asian longhorned ticks” fact sheet by visiting their website.