What biologists are describing as an exotic tick has been found in Connecticut.
According to researchers at Western Connecticut State University, the Asian longhorned tick was discovered in Fairfield County.
WCSU planned a Thursday afternoon news conference with biology professor Dr. Neeta Connally.
Connally said it is the first instance of the tick being found in the state.
Brittany Schappach, a recent WCSU Biology Department graduate, collected the tick on July 3.
“Right away when I was counting the ticks, I could tell this one was different,” she said. “The size, shape and color were all different from the blacklegged ticks that we usually collect."
It had previously been found in New York and New Jersey, among other states.
“This particular tick looks very similar to rabbit ticks that we have collected in the past,” Connally said. “But rabbit ticks do not really threaten livestock health the way that this invasive tick species can, so it was important to confirm for sure what kind of tick we had on our hands.”
Connally said they've only collected the one specimen.
“We knew that there was a good chance the tick was present in Connecticut because it was recently detected in neighboring New York state, but we had not seen any unusual ticks among the thousands of ticks we have collected from both residential properties and public forests,” Connally said. The tick has been found in eight other states including Arkansas, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia."
According to the Lyme Disease Association, the longhorned tick is self-cloning, and is already known to transmit several human diseases, including spotted fever rickettsiosis, in its native East Asian countries of China, Japan and Australia.
Though WCSU said it's currently not a threat to humans. It's typically a threat to livestock.
However, it may be only a matter of time before they become carriers of tick-borne diseases that affect humans, the association warned.
“People should always remember that spending time outdoors in our region means that they can encounter a tick,” Connally said. “Performing daily checks, showering after coming indoors, and wearing repellent are ways you can reduce your risk for a tick bite.”
More information on the longhorned tick can be found here.
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