The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, this week confirmed the finding of the Haemaphysalis longicornis tick (otherwise known as the East Asian or Longhorned tick) in Virginia. The tick appeared on an orphaned calf on a beef farm in Albemarle County.

Image/The National Atlas of the United States of America
Image/The National Atlas of the United States of America

In late 2017 H. longicornis was found initially in New Jersey. No known direct link exists from the Virginia farm to the area in New Jersey where the first ticks appeared on a sheep farm.

Virginia state veterinary officials will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal and industry partners to determine the extent and significance of this finding.

H. longicornis is native to East Asia (Japan, China, the former USSR, Korea) but has become a major invasive pest of cattle in New Zealand, parts of Australia, and several Pacific islands (New Caledonia, Fiji, Western Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu).

H. longicornis is also known to parasitize humans, with published reports, often describing numerous cases, from Australia (four reports), China (1), Japan (18), New Zealand (2), Russia (1), and South Korea.

While the primary threat posed by this species is intense infestations of cattle that can lead to weakness and, in some cases, exsanguination and death, it has also been implicated in transmission of several diseases of medical and veterinary concern, including Rickettsia japonica, the agent of Oriental spotted fever, Theileria orientalis, the agent of cattle theileriosis, and a newly described bunyavirus causing Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS). Additionally, field populations of ticks have been found infected with AnaplasmaEhrlichia, and Borrelia spp. in China and Korea.