EXOTIC TICK SPECIES FOUND IN MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ

May 16, 2018

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) confirmed on May 11 that the Longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) was found at Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s Cook Campus farm in Middlesex County, in a patch of high grass along College Farm Road.

Samples were collected during a May 10 statewide “Tick Blitz” led by the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology. Statewide results of the Tick Blitz, including confirmation of whether Longhorned ticks were found elsewhere in New Jersey, will be available in the near future.

Longhorned ticks found thus far in New Jersey have tested negative for pathogens dangerous to humans or animals.

Earlier this year, the Longhorned tick was confirmed to be at a Hunterdon County farm and at a Union County park. Various local, state, and federal animal health agencies, as well as Rutgers–New Brunswick, are working together to identify the range of the ticks and develop a plan to eliminate them from the areas where they are found.

“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. “We emphasize that people continue to use tick prevention measures for themselves and their animals as all ticks become more active with warmer temperatures.”

Robert M. Goodman, executive dean of the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Health Sciences, said, “Our Rutgers Center for Vector Biology is playing a lead role as we seek to determine how widespread this tick is across New Jersey, and develop the best ways to eliminate it. We are taking steps to eliminate the ticks where they were found on our campus. 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.”

Rutgers–New Brunswick’s New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station provides information on tick-borne diseases at https://njaes.rutgers.edu/tick/.

The Hunterdon County location where the tick was confirmed in November 2017, completed tick elimination treatment on May 3, 2018. Tick surveillance on the premises and in the area is ongoing. The Union County premises where ticks were collected by Rutgers University in May 2017 were confirmed as H. longicornis by the NVSL on April 28, 2018. There were also additional ticks collected at the same site on April 21, 2018 which were confirmed as H. longicornis by the NVSL on May 4, 2018.

The exotic ticks found in Union County were also located within 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 tick 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.

Surveillance has continued in the Hunterdon County and Union County sites as planned and will also continue at the Middlesex County site. The Rutgers University Center for Vector Biology, along with the Monmouth County Mosquito Control Division, led the statewide “Tick Blitz” last week with mosquito control commissions representing each county in New Jersey.

If unusual ticks are detected in livestock animals or if there are any questions regarding livestock, please 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.

Persons with questions about tickborne illness in humans can contact their local health department (http://localhealth.nj.gov) or the New Jersey Department of Health at 609-826-5964.

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