TRENTON, N.J. — The USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory has confirmed that the longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) was found at Soldier Hill Golf Course in Bergen County, making it the fifth county in New Jersey known to have the tick. The longhorned tick was also found on a child in Bergen County at a separate location. That confirmation came from the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. The child was not bitten by the tick and tests by a private lab revealed no pathogens in that tick. Earlier findings have been confirmed in Hunterdon, Union, Middlesex and Mercer counties.
Some of these findings were a result of a statewide “Tick Blitz,” led by the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology in May and developed primarily by professionals from New Jersey’s county mosquito control programs. The longhorned tick was newly identified in both Middlesex and Mercer Counties during the Tick Blitz, with additional locations identified within Union and Hunterdon Counties. Bergen County officials continued looking for ticks within their county after the Tick Blitz, which led to the finding of the Longhorned tick at Soldier Hill Golf Course.
Other public parks where the longhorned tick has been found include Davidson Mill County Pond Park in Middlesex County and Watchung Reservation, Houdaille Quarry Park and Briant Park in Union County. There have also been confirmed findings of the longhorned tick in New York, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Arkansas.
Various local, state, and federal animal health agencies, as well as Rutgers–New Brunswick, continue to work together to identify the range of the longhorned tick in New Jersey. longhorned ticks that have been collected in New Jersey thus far have tested negative for various human and animal pathogens.
Like deer ticks, the nymphs of the longhorned tick are very small (resembling tiny spiders) and can easily go unnoticed on animals and people. Although specimens identified in New Jersey have not been found to carry pathogens, longhorned ticks in other countries have been shown to spread diseases. They are known to infest a wide range of species including humans, dogs, cats and livestock.
“We want to emphasize that it is important that people continue to use normal tick prevention measures for themselves, their pets and livestock,” said Dr. Manoel Tamassia, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian. “We will work to continue to develop strategies to control the spread of the tick to other areas.”
As part of New Jersey’s investigation, counties have set up drop off locations for the public to submit ticks they find on themselves, their pets, livestock or on wildlife. Information on these locations and how to submit a tick can be found on the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s website at http://www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/ah/.
A phone line has also been established to leave a message if a tick is found and there is uncertainty about what the next steps are. If you need information about what to do if you find a tick on yourself, your pets or livestock call 1-833-NEWTICK (1-833-639-8425).
For more information on ticks and tick-borne disease visit the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology at http://vectorbio.rutgers.edu/news.php; Rhode Island Tick Encounter site: http://www.tickencounter.org/ or TickCheck Tick Testing at https://www.tickcheck.com/.
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture