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The Buzz

CDC Warns of Self-Cloning, Disease-Carrying Tick That Can Cause 'Massive Infestations'




(Photo via Shutterstock)

The cold weather may be here and with that comes some bug-free outdoor excursions, but a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sounding the alarm for next summer in regard to an exotic, self-cloning tick that's invading the United States.

The Asian longhorned tick was found in New Jersey in August 2017 and, since then, has been found in eight other states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

According to the report, this tick "represents a new and emerging disease threat." Experts know it can spread human hemorrhagic fever, but the jury is still out on lyme disease.

"The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown,” said Ben Beard, Ph.D., deputy director of CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. "In other parts of the world, the Asian longhorned tick can transmit many types of pathogens common in the United States. 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."

What makes this tick unique is that females don't need a mate to reproduce and one female can start her own insane infestation, thanks to her ability to lay up to 2,000 eggs. 

"As a result, hundreds to thousands of ticks can be found on a single animal, person, or in the environment," the CDC said.

The Asian longhorned tick “is potentially capable of spreading a large number of diseases,” said Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, according to The Washington Post. “We really don’t know if diseases will be spread by this tick in the United States and, if so, to what extent. But it’s very important that we figure this out quickly.”

The CDC says a broad range of interventions should be evaluated and is calling for "collaboration among governmental, agricultural, public health agencies and partners in academic public health, veterinary sciences, and agricultural sciences to prevent diseases of potential national importance."

What Should You Do?

The CDC offers up these tips for protecting yourself against ticks: 

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Always follow product instructions.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear. Treated articles remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Check your body and clothing for ticks upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Place tick-infested clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
  • Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and is a good time to do a tick check.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tickborne diseases in your area and prevention products for your dog.

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