CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - The West Virginia Department of Agriculture says a new, exotic tick threat has been detected in West Virginia.
On Monday, May 21, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed Haemaphysalis longicornis's, or the longhorned tick’s, presence in West Virginia.
Ticks samples were collected from cattle at two separate locations in Hardy County. These farms are located on the border with Virginia, around 100 miles from Albemarle County, Va.
“We want people to understand we now have confirmation this tick is in West Virginia. Livestock producers and the public should take extra precautions,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “We will be working with veterinarians throughout the state on how to handle outbreaks.”
“Livestock producers, animal owners and veterinarians should notify the State Veterinarian’s office if they notice any unusual ticks, or ticks that occur in large numbers on an individual animal,” said State Veterinarian Dr. James Maxwell. “Livestock producers can work with their veterinarians to develop a tick prevention and control program.”
The longhorned tick is non-native species to the United States. The USDA considers the tick as a serious threat to livestock.
Heavy tick infestations may cause stunted growth, decreased production and animal deaths.
This tick species is known to carry several diseases prone to affect livestock and humans alike, some of which are not prevalent in the United States.
“This tick has been associated with bacterial and viral tickborne disease in other parts of the world,” said Miguella Mark-Carew, Director of Epidemiology and Prevention Services for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health. “Like deer ticks that transmit Lyme disease, longhorned ticks are very small and can be difficult to find on people and animals. It is important to conduct full-body tick checks when returning from time outdoors in wooded areas.”
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is working with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources and the USDA-APHIS to increase outreach activities, educate veterinary practitioners and encourage tick submissions through the Veterinary Tick Submission Project, a voluntary sentinel tick surveillance system. Any ticks identified through the WVVTSP will be tested for tickborne disease pathogens.