The first confirmed case of Longhorn ticks has been reported on a pet in West Virginia. The tick is native to eastern Asia and can carry dangerous diseases.
Longhorn ticks are a lot like any other type of tick, they can host all kinds of diseases. But while you would maybe typically think of Lyme disease in a West Virginia tick, longhorn ticks are from Asia and can host other types of diseases that could be potentially dangerous to pets and even people.
“If you run into a population of them, you might not end up with 1 or 2 ticks, you could have dozens of ticks all at one time,” Dr. Jennifer Snider of the Kanawha City Veterinary Hospital told 13 News.
Longhorn ticks can be dangerous, so when Dr. Snider saw a patient with lots of critters, she took it seriously.
“It was a stray dog loaded with ticks, so it had a ton of ticks on it. so we collected as many as we could and sent them into the lab,” Dr. Snider explained.
8 ticks tested positive as longhorn ticks. Dr. Snider guesses there are probably other unconfirmed cases out there.
“We did have a phone call from a lady whose cat had gotten into ticks and she said the cats entire head was covered in ticks. Well, knowing what I know now, I suspect those were probably longhorn ticks,” Dr. Snider told 13 News.
Female longhorn ticks can reproduce on their own, and do it quickly. So Dr. Snider suggests taking steps to protect your pet.
“Every pet, in my opinion, should be on a good quality regular flea and tick medication and they should be on it year round,” Dr. Snider added.
You should also regularly check your pet for ticks, especially with this latest confirmed case.
“It’s going to be an issue. Right now it’s in its infancy, but over time I think it’s going to become a significant player in the tick population,” Dr. Snider said.
While Longhorn ticks can be found on any animal or person, the species does prefer livestock and wild animals. So vets are concerned about a possible infestation on local farms.