The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory identified one Asian longhorned tick in Fairfield County over the summer after it was submitted by someone in the town of Fairfield, University of Connecticut officials announced on Thursday, Sept. 7.
The tick is the third case that the laboratory has seen in Connecticut since the species arrived in the US in 2017. The first case was found in June 2020 and the second was identified in August 2022, UConn officials added.
Luckily, the tick identified in Fairfield was not carrying any tick-borne pathogens, including the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease. However, the laboratory still expressed concern over the discovery.
"Given how recently the tick has emerged in the US, there is very limited information on what pathogens this insect may carry and if they can transmit them to humans,” said CVMDL director Guillermo Risatti, who is also a professor of pathobiology at UConn.
Risatti added, "In countries where the tick exists, it is a known vector for human and animal disease, so we need to monitor this closely to support holistic health of residents and animals in our state.”
The Asian longhorned tick can be identified microscopically by distinctive "horns" found on the sides of its mouth. It is native to eastern Asia but since 2017, the species has been found on people, wildlife, livestock, and pets in the US.
According to UConn officials, the tick's potential health impact is "significant," as in its native habitat of China and Japan, it can transmit a virus that can cause severe hemorrhagic fever.
Additionally, in regions of New Zealand and Australia where the species is considered invasive, it can reduce production in dairy cattle by around 25 percent, officials said.
Researchers are also concerned about the tick's spread in Connecticut because females can reproduce asexually, which can lead to massive host infestations that can be hard to keep under control.
Any questions or concerns about the tick species can be directed to the CVMDL by emailing email@example.com or visiting this link.
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