Remember that mysterious exotic tick that showed up on a New Jersey sheep farm last year? It’s now made it’s way down to Virginia.
On May 14, the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa 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.
In late 2017 H. longicornis was found initially in New Jersey. Until that time, this exotic tick was not known to exist in the U.S. How it arrived in New Jersey remains a mystery. No known direct link exists from the Virginia farm to the area in New Jersey where the first ticks appeared on a sheep farm.
Like deer ticks, the nymphs of the Longhorned are very small (resembling tiny spiders) and can easily go unnoticed on animals and people. This tick is known to infest deer and a wide range of other hosts. Therefore, it has the potential to infect multiple North American wildlife species.
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.
Livestock producers and owners should notify VDACS if they notice any unusual ticks that have not been seen before or that occur in large numbers on an individual animal. Images and descriptions of the common Virginia ticks can be found here. Typically, ticks are seen in the greatest numbers in spring and fall, but can persist through all four seasons, especially in warmer weather.
Livestock producers should work with their herd veterinarians to develop a tick prevention and control program. Livestock owners also may contact VDACS’ Office of Veterinary Services at 804.786.2483