An invasive tick species originally from halfway around the world is quickly making inroads in North America.
The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis Neumann) is native to East Asia, and it’s also found in Australia and Oceania.
It was first spotted in New Jersey in 2017, with sightings in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Researchers recently took a look at temperature, precipitation and ecological zones to find suitable habitats in North America. The model predicted that much of eastern North America, from the Gulf Coast stretching all the way to southern Canada, would be suitable, along with a small area on the West Coast.
“Compared to mosquitos, ticks are kind of neglected,” study author Ilia Rochlin, a professor at Rutgers University, told National Geographic. “They’re the orphan of medical entomology despite their huge public health impact.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Asian longhorned tick has been spotted on people, pets, livestock and wildlife. The CDC says there haven’t been any harmful germs found on these ticks in the United States, but they have been known to make people and animals sick in Asia.
How to protect yourself from these ticks
The CDC offered several tips to prevent ticks:
• Use insect repellents containing ingredients like DEET, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, picaridin or 2-undecanone.
• Wear permethrin-treated clothing
• Shower as soon as possible after being outdoors. Check for ticks, too, especially prime hiding spots like your armpits, behind the knees, in your hair or in the groin.
• Put the clothes you wore in a dryer for 10 minutes on high heat. If they’re damp, you might need to go longer in the dryer.
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