Missouri State University researchers uncover new tick species in Greene County
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri State University researchers have uncovered a species of tick that could be harmful to the state’s cattle population.
They found the Asian longhorned tick on MSU property just northwest of Springfield. Dr. David Claborn and his students have been doing tick research for the last two years as a partnership with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, searching for the tick species. But they primarily found Lone Star and Dog ticks.
The Asian Longhorned tick can produce as many as 1,000 offspring without mating. The ticks are light brown and often smaller than a sesame seed. Claborn says the Centers for Disease Control has confirmed with molecular testing that one of the ticks the team found is, in fact, an Asian Longhorned tick. He is still waiting to hear from the CDC about three more ticks.
Dr. Claborn says the news comes just as their contract with the state on tick research is ending.
“So we started looking, basically in conservation areas first, and we looked all over the state. And two years ago, we didn’t find it,” said Dr. Claborn. “Well this year is when we found them, and very few of them, but they’re there.”
Claborn says the state of Missouri began searching for the tick after it was found in northwest Arkansas a couple years ago.
The CDC says this type of tick doesn’t seem to be as attracted to humans, but it can cause disease in cattle. The Missouri Department of Agriculture recommends farmers check livestock regularly, keep grass and weeds trimmed and contact a vet about any large tick infestations.
The USDA says, “Theileria orientalis is a tickborne protozoon that infects red and white blood cells and causes bovine infectious anemia. Clinical signs of theileriosis are similar to anaplasmosis in cattle and include anemia, jaundice, and weakness”
The Missouri Department of Agriculture says, “As with other tick species, the Asian longhorned tick can carry pathogens, which can cause disease in livestock and humans. Additionally, a large population of ticks on an individual animal may cause distress to that animal due to significant blood loss. A host animal can experience great stress, which could result in reduced growth and production. In some cases, a severe infestation can kill the animal from excessive blood loss.”
“Farmers and ranchers should regularly check their livestock for ticks and continue to maintain pest-control protocols. Keeping grass and weeds trimmed and clearing brush in pastures are important tick prevention practices.”
Research on the presence of tick species in Missouri continues through a partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation and A.T. Still University. Residents are asked to send ticks to the University through September 2022 so that University researchers can study the distribution of ticks in Missouri and any human pathogens transmitted by those ticks. For more information, or to find out how to submit a sample, visit Missouri ticks and tick-borne pathogen surveillance (atsu.edu).
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