Longhorned tick discovered in northern Missouri

The Asian longhorned tick can be hard to spot.
The Asian longhorned tick can be hard to spot.(CDC)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 11:01 AM CDT
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (KFVS) - Researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) report they have discovered the Asian longhorned tick in northern Missouri.

This is the first time the insect has been spotted in this region, but not the first time in the state.

According to MU, the Asian longhorned tick was found in Greene County, the southern part of the state last year.

Researchers say the tick can transmit bovine theileriosis, a disease that kills red blood cells in cattle. They go on to report bovine theileriosis could lead to significant loss in weight gain for cattle, similar to an already widely prevalent disease called anaplasmosis.

Cattle ranchers are urged to notice weakness, jaundice and pregnancy loss in their herds. If this is observed, ranchers should contact their local veterinarian and the MU Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory for help in tracking down the cause.

Researchers say these symptoms are typical of both bovine theileriosis and anaplasmosis.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture, Asian longhorned ticks are light brown in color and often smaller than a sesame seed, which makes them difficult to spot.

Researchers also say they can establish in new areas quickly because females can lay thousands of eggs without the help of a male.

While the threat from this species of tick to people, pets and cattle remains low, researchers are urging the public to be more vigilant in protecting themselves and animals from ticks in general.

“Warmer temperatures in the Midwest seem to be creating perfect conditions for ticks and the pathogens they carry to thrive, and this problem may get worse going forward as the planet continues to warm, which is concerning,” said Ram Raghavan, a professor at MU College of Veterinary Medicine and MU School of Health Professions. “We must be vigilant and devote resources toward trying to prevent these ticks from spreading diseases that harm the health of cattle, humans and their pets. The discovery of longhorned ticks in northern Missouri greatly increases the need for more vigilance towards ticks in general and the need for routine monitoring of the pathogens they transmit.”

The first report of longhorned ticks in the United States was in 2017 in New Jersey.

Since then, researchers say it has since reached the Mid-Atlantic, New England and Midwestern regions of the U.S.

For more information about longhorned ticks, click here.