Asian Long-horned Ticks in Massachusetts
A message from Stephen Rich, Professor of Microbiology at UMass Amherst, and Executive Director of the New England Regional Center of Excellence in Vector-borne Diseases.
UPDATE: We have verified that the ticks we suepected of being Asian long horned ticks (Haemophysalis longicornis) are in fact rabbit ticks (Haemophysalis leporipalstris). The two species are very similar, and we used a DNA based method to verify the results.
Rabbit ticks (Haemophysalis) as the name implies are primarily parasites of rabbits (lagomorphs). Asian longhorned ticks are an invasive species reported in nearby states (CT and NY) but still unknown in Massachusetts. Asian longhorned ticks feed primarily on livestock. If you find unusual ticks (or other blood sucking arthropods) on livestock, please contact the New England Center of Excellence in Vector-borne Diseases (NEWVEC): via email or call 413.545.5225.
INITIAL MESSAGE: You are probably aware that a new species of tick has invaded the continent. These Asian Long-horned ticks (ALT) or Haemophysalis longicornis are known parasites of livestock as well as white tailed deer.
Last week, we found what we believe to be the first incidence of this tick in the Commonwealth. We identified more than 100 of these ticks in the Berkshires (Windsor, Massachusetts). We are confirming the ID of these ticks, and testing them for pathogens.
These ticks are not known to bite humans, nor are they usually associated with pathogens. Nonetheless, I’d like to let your members know of this. If you find unusual ticks on your livestock or companion animals, please contact us and we can help to identify them and address the problem.