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Health officials: Invasive tick species found on York County farm

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — An invasive species of tick has been identified at a farm in York County, according to South Carolina health officials.

The South Carolina tick surveillance program identified a large amount of Asian longhorned ticks infesting a pasture on a cattle farm.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture first reported this species of ticks in the United States in 2010. Since then, they have been found in 17 states. In 2020, a small number were identified on shelter dogs in Lancaster and Pickens counties.

The ticks are smaller than average and light brown. Although this species of ticks is not common in the United States, their bites have caused severe illnesses in livestock, animals and people.

Unlike other ticks, female Asian longhorned ticks can produce without a mate. They can produce 1,000 to 2,000 eggs at a time -- that means a single animal could host hundreds or even thousands of ticks.

“While no documented cases of diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, or anaplasmosis have been reported in the United States due to bites from Asian longhorned ticks, the ability of this tick species to spread diseases that can make people and animals ill is a concern,” said Dr. Chris Evans, a state public health official.

Dr. Michael Neault, a state veterinarian, recommends animal owners talk with their veterinarian about what products to use to treat Asian longhorned ticks on animals.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently awarded a grant for over half a million dollars that will allow the South Carolina surveillance program to identify and monitor these types of situations.

The surveillance program includes the Department of Health and Environmental Control, Clemson University Livestock Poultry Health and the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health.

The surveillance program is asking residents to submit ticks to help state officials identify them and learn more.

“With local help, I believe we can slow the spread of this tick in our state,” said Dr. Melissa Nolan, an assistant professor and director at the University of South Carolina.

For instructions on how to collect and submit ticks, click here.

For more information on how to protect yourself from tick bites and from exposure to tick-borne illnesses, click here.

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