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Deadly tick found in Arkansas; program to turn in ticks

(KY3)
Published: Jun. 19, 2018 at 10:20 PM CDT
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The Longhorned tick has now been found in four states, including Arkansas, but researchers don't think the cases are connected.

That tick found in the Natural State was recently found on a dog in Benton County.

Dr. Heath Jones, a veterinarian with Harrison Animal Clinic, said, "They can actually reproduce on their own. They don't need a male. So they have an ability to colonize an area very quickly."

The tick is from East Asia, and no one knows exactly how the tick got here.

Dr. Jon Blevins, an associate producer for University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said, "I would say any time you get the introduction of a foreign species into kind of a new environment, especially something as aggressive as the Haemaphysalis ticks, it could be concerning."

Jones said, "The worry is it has the chance of introducing new diseases to the area."

And the Arkansas Agriculture Department reports those diseases could be deadly to humans as well as livestock, but so far officials said they have not received any reports of those diseases in the area.

Last year a university in Little Rock started a program that analyzes all kinds of ticks that are submitted to them.

Blevins said, "Detect what pathogens may or may not be in the ticks they submit."

Blevins encourages people to send in those bugs to the college to be examined through the Arkansas Tick-Borne Pathogen Surveillance Program. For more information on how to send a tick, go to https://mbim.uams.edu/resources/arkansas-tick-borne-pathogen-surveillance-program/

Blevins said he doesn't diagnose anyone if they were bitten by the tick - it's for research purposes to see where the ticks are found that carry certain diseases.

"Where the hot spots might be around the state," he said.

Although officials said there's been no sign of foreign diseases from the new Longhorned tick, it's still important to take precautions to keep ticks away.

Jones said, "We need to be paying attention, and if possible stay out of heavy tick load areas."