East Asian exotic tick found in Middlesex County, NJ department says

Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | May 17, 2018 | MonroeNow

Test results released on May 11 by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed that an invasive East Asian tick species was found in Middlesex County.

This is the third New Jersey county the invasive tick, known as the Longhorned, has been found. It has been known to swarm livestock in the thousands. Longhorned ticks found so far in New Jersey have tested negative for pathogens dangerous to humans or animals.

The tick, the state Department of Agriculture said in a statement on May 16, was found on May 10, at Rutgers University New Brunswick’s Cook Campus during a statewide “Tick Blitz” lead by the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology. The tick was found in high grass along College Farm Road. Additional samples were collected from other areas in New Jersey, but those results are not yet available.

Aside from Middlesex, positive samples were found at a farm in Hunterdon County and a park in Union County.

“We will continue with our plan to do what we can to delineate the areas with the tick and eliminate it from known sites of infestation,” said Dr. Manoel Tamassia, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian.

Various federal, state and local animal health agencies, as well as Rutgers New Brunswick, are collaborating to “identify the range of the ticks and develop a plan to eliminate them from the areas where they are found,” the Agriculture Department said.

“We are taking steps to eliminate the ticks where they were found from our campus,” said Robert M. Goodman, executive dean of the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Health Sciences. “From a public health standpoint, however, people should be more concerned about our native ticks and the diseases they may carry, such as Lyme disease. Because this is tick season, people enjoying the outdoors should follow the standard steps to protect themselves, their children and their pets from tick-borne disease.”

The Hunterdon County location where the tick was confirmed in November 2017, completed tick elimination treatment on May 3. Tick surveillance on the premises and in the area is ongoing. The Union County location where ticks were collected by Rutgers University in May 2017 were confirmed as H. longicornis on April 28. There were also additional ticks collected at the same site on April 21, which were confirmed as H. longicornis on May 4.

The exotic ticks found in Union County were also located within a small isolated area with tall grass. Tests on the exotic tick identified on a sheep in Hunterdon County in November failed to reveal any tick-borne diseases.

Like deer-ticks, the nymphs of the Longhorned are very small — resembling tiny spiders — and can easily go unnoticed on animals and people. Although specimens identified in New Jersey have not been found to carry pathogens, Longhorned ticks in other countries have spread disease to humans. They are known to infest a wide range of species including humans, dogs, cats and livestock.

If unusual ticks are detected in livestock animals or if there are any questions regarding livestock, individuals should contact the state veterinarian at 609-671-6400.

Unusual ticks detected in wildlife should be immediately reported to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics at 908-637-4173, ext. 120.