CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The presence of the longhorn tick has been confirmed in West Virginia by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory.
The tick, which is considered a threat to livestock and in some cases humans, was found in on cattle at two separate farms in Hardy County. State Agriculture officials say those farms are on the Virginia border, but are about 100 miles away from Albemarle County ,Virginia where the tick’s presence was confirmed by Virginia Ag officials last week.
The tick, a non-native species to the United States, was first discovered in New Jersey in November 2017. West Virginia is the third state where it has been identified and suggests the tick’s presence may be more widespread.
“We want people to understand we now have confirmation this tick is in West Virginia. Livestock producers and the public should take extra precautions,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt in a press release. “We will be working with veterinarians throughout the state on how to handle outbreaks.”
The United States Department of Agriculture considers the longhorn tick a serious threat to livestock. Infestations can cause stunted growth, decreased production, and in some cases death to the animals. The ticks can also carry a number of diseases not presently known to exist in the United States which can be contracted by animals and humans alike.
“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.”
Anyone noticing an outbreak of the ticks is advised to notify the state Department of Agriculture, DNR, or DHHR to report the incident.