The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) has now been spotted in seven states, mostly along the East Coast, the New York Times reported Monday.
’Like many species of tick, the Asian longhorned tick can carry disease-causing pathogens, including bacteria that resemble those that cause Lyme disease in the U.S., the Powassan virus, and the parasite responsible for babesiosis, an infection that goes after red blood cells. In Eastern Asia, the tick is thought to spread a virus that causes an emerging disease known as severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS). People with SFTS have abnormally low platelet levels and can rapidly suffer organ failure. The mortality rate of SFTS can reach as high as 30 percent.
At this point, though, none of the longhorned ticks tested by the CDC have been found to carry any germs themselves. It’s also possible that SFTS might not be a danger that people in the U.S. have to worry about. The disease hasn’t been spotted in other areas of the world where longhorned ticks have invaded, such as Australia and New Zealand, indicating that it might take unique conditions for it to be transmittable to people.…’