• By Jason Howland

Mayo Clinic Minute: What is the Asian longhorned tick?

July 9, 2019

A species of tick originating from Asia is spreading quickly across the Western Hemisphere, and it's drawing concern from U.S. health officials — not only for the potential danger of spreading viruses and bacteria, but also because it was found on a well-manicured lawn rather than the typical tick environment of long grasses and bushes.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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There's a new tick in town.

The Asian longhorned tick was initially found in the U.S. in 2017. And despite public health efforts ...

"... it did spread. It is now in 11 states," says Dr. Bobbi Pritt, a Mayo Clinic parasitic diseases expert.

Similar in size to the average American wood tick, the Asian longhorned tick can reproduce in large numbers.

"So she can produce hundreds and hundreds of offspring that live on a single animal," says Dr. Pritt. "And the blood loss from the feeding on that animal can be so great, the animal can die."

It also will bite humans. And, in other countries, has transmitted viruses and bacteria that have made people seriously ill.

"So one virus in particular that we'd be quite worried about is one called 'severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus,'" says Dr. Pritt.

As of now, no harmful germs have been found in ticks collected in the U.S., but it might be only a matter of time.

And tick bite prevention is key. Use tick repellent outdoors, wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, tuck your pants into your socks, and remove any ticks from people or animals as soon as possible.

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