A tick species not seen in North America before 2017 may present a threat to Arkansas livestock and Arkansans.

In a Nov. 29 press release, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a possible increase in the Asian Longhorned tick and working with public health, agricultural, and academic experts to understand the possible threat posed.

The tick was first discovered in 2017, in New Jersey, but has since been reported in other east and northeast states, but has also been found, remote from other locations, in Arkansas.

“The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown,” Ben Beard, Ph.D., deputy director of CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, said.  “In other parts of the world, the Asian longhorned tick can transmit many types of pathogens common in the United States. We are concerned that this tick, which can cause massive infestations on animals, on people, and in the environment, is spreading in the United States.”

New Jersey and eight other states report finding this tick

New Jersey was the first state to report the tick on a sheep in August 2017. Since then, 45 counties or county equivalents in New Jersey and eight other states—Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia—have reported finding the tick on a variety of hosts, including people, wildlife, domestic animals, and in environmental samples.

In contrast to most tick species, a single female tick can reproduce offspring (1-2,000 eggs at a time) without mating. As a result, hundreds to thousands of ticks can be found on a single animal, person, or in the environment. Livestock producers and pet owners should work with their veterinarians to maintain regular tick prevention and report any unknown tick species to their local department of agriculture.

In other parts of the world where the Asian longhorned tick is common, it is a serious threat to livestock. In some regions of New Zealand and Australia, this tick can reduce production in dairy cattle by 25 percent.

CDC reports a continued effort to both track the tick and develop “prevention and control” strategies. It recommends using appropriate insect repellent, such as containing DEET, treating clothing and footwear, and showering soon after being outdoors.