The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed the presence of the Longhorned tick in Hardy County in eastern West Virginia, according to the W.Va. Department of Agriculture.
Haemaphysalis longicornis ticks were collected from cattle on two farms in Hardy County near the Virginia border, according to W.Va. Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.
“We now have confirmation this tick is in West Virginia. Livestock producers and the public should take extra precautions,” Leonhardt said in a press release.
“We will be working with veterinarians throughout the state on how to handle outbreaks.”
In November 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture first identified the longhorned tick in New Jersey, the first confirmed presence in the U.S.
West Virginia is the third state in which the deparment has identified the tick, Leonhardt said, indicating distribution is broader than thought.
The department is not aware of any direct links between West Virginia and Virginia or New Jersey, he said.
W.Va. State Veterinarian Dr. James Maxwell said farmers should contact his office if they notice unusual ticks.
“Livestock producers can work with their veterinarians to develop a tick prevention and control program," he said.
The longhorned tick is non-native species that the USDA considers a serious threat to livestock.
Heavy tick infestations may cause stunted growth, decreased production, and animal deaths. The species is known to carry several diseases prone to affect livestock and humans alike, some of which are not prevalent in the U.S.
“This tick has been associated with bacterial and viral tickborne disease in other parts of the world,” said Miguella Mark-Carew, Director of Epidemiology and Prevention Services for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health.
“Like deer ticks that transmit Lyme disease, longhorned ticks are very small and can be difficult to find on people and animals. It is important to conduct full-body tick checks when returning from time outdoors in wooded areas.”
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is working with the W.Va. Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, and the USDA to increase outreach activities, educate veterinary practitioners, and encourage tick submissions through the Veterinary Tick Submission Project, a tick-surveillance system.
For questions regarding animals, please contact the WVDA’s Animal Health Division at 304-558-2214.
For questions about tickborne diseases, call the state Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 304-558-5358 (extension 1) or visit its website.