Asian longhorned tick, nymph and adult female, top view. (CDC)
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - A species of tick that was virtually unseen in the United States just a few years ago is now spreading across several states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is investigating the threat it may pose.
The arrival of the Asian longhorned tick in the U.S. is particularly alarming because one female tick can produce thousands of eggs even without mating. That potentially can lead to hundreds or even thousands of ticks infesting an animal, a person, or an outdoors area, the CDC said.
"In other parts of the world, the Asian longhorned tick can transmit many types of pathogens common in the United States," the CDC's Ben Beard said. "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."
The longhorned tick was first spotted in New Jersey in 2017. Since then, public health officials in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia reported finding the tick on a dozen dogs, seven white-tailed deer, four cows, two goats, two horses, two sheep, two opossums, two people, a gray fox, a groundhog, a raccoon, a coyote, and a cat.
"The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown," Beard said.
The CDC is urging farmers, ranchers, and pet owners to talk to their veterinarians about tick prevention. If you come across an unfamiliar tick, the CDC wants you to report it to your local agriculture officials.
A record number of tick-borne diseases were reported in the U.S. in 2017, according to the CDC. Lyme disease accounted for nearly three-quarters of the illnesses but scientists have discovered that ticks spread many more diseases, too.