On April 23rd confirmation was made by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) that the Longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) was found at the Watchung Reservation in Union County. Samples had been originally collected in May of 2017 as part of ongoing tick study.
Various local, state, and federal animal health officials, as well as Rutgers University are working together to identify the range of the ticks and develop a plan to eliminate this pest from the area in Union County. The Longhorned tick was first confirmed to be found in the U.S. at a Hunterdon County farm, about 40 miles from the Union County location, last November and was confirmed to have overwintered at the Hunterdon County farm on April 17.
Like deer-ticks, the nymphs of the Longhorned tick are very small (resembling tiny spiders) and can easily go unnoticed on animals and people. This tick is known to infest a wide range of species and has the potential to infect multiple North American wildlife species, humans, dogs, cats, and livestock.
USDA APHIS-Wildlife Services in cooperation with the Division of Fish and Wildlife have been examining wild white-tailed deer for this tick near the Hunterdon County site. On April 24th, the NVSL confirmed Longhorned ticks on one of the white-tailed deer that was examined on April 19th. This was the first finding of this tick feeding on local wildlife.
Surveillance will continue in Hunterdon County as planned. To best evaluate the spread of the tick, Rutgers University Center for Vector Biology along with the Monmouth County Mosquito Control Division will be hosting a tick blitz in early May with all mosquito control commissions in each county in New Jersey.
Please contact the State Veterinarian at (609) 671-6400 if unusual ticks are detected in livestock animals or with any questions regarding livestock.
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. Tests on the exotic tick identified in Hunterdon County in November failed to reveal any tickborne diseases.