Commissioner Steve Troxler: Asian Longhorned Ticks Found in Surry County.

Livestock producers and pet owners are advised to be especially watchful for ticks after the recent death of five cows in Surry County were linked to the non-native Asian longhorned tick.

  • Given my history with tick diseases, I don’t really want to talk about ticks, but today I need to talk about ticks to warn livestock producers and pet owners to be on the watch for them.
  • Recently, the death of five cows on a Surry County farm were attributed to acute anemia caused by tick infestations. A young deceased bull was brought into our Northwestern Animal Disease Diagnostic lab with more than 1,000 ticks on it. The owner had lost four other cattle under the same circumstances.
  • The N.C. Division of Public Health, Communicable Disease Branch positively confirmed the tick to be the Asian longhorned tick, a species that is not native to our country or state.
  • It is the fourth confirmed case in North Carolina since 2018, but the first case this year.
  • The Asian longhorned tick was first identified in the United States in August 2010 in West Virginia. It was taken from a white-tail deer. Since that time, 67 counties in the U.S. have confirmed local Asian longhorned tick populations. Virginia has the most counties with 24 confirmed. The tick has not been linked to any human infections in the United States
  • This tick is a significant threat to livestock as you can see from this particular case. They are aggressive biters and frequently build intense infestations on animals causing great stress, reduced growth and production, and blood loss.
  • These ticks can reproduce without a male, so a single fed female tick can create a localized population.
  • There are some steps owners can take to try to reduce tick populations and tick contact with their livestock and pets.
  • Our veterinarians recommendations include:
    • Work with your local vet and extension agent to figure out an appropriate tick strategy for your flock or herd.
    • Visually inspect animals for ticks and look for animals scratching at or reacting to tick bites.
    • Consider habitat modifications, such as keeping grass shorter, The Asian longhorned tick spend the majority of its time in its habitat and not on a host. They can drop off a host after feeding.
    • Consider tick vaccines for susceptible species.
  • The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is working to identify ticks in all 100 counties in the states. Veterinarians are encouraged to submit ticks they find on patients to help track and identify tick populations in the state.