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Hard and Soft Ticks Projected to Transmit Multiple Diseases to People, Pets, and Livestock in 2019

The polar vortex is finally over and you're anxious to get outside and start working on your home and yard. You have to be cautious though, tick season is here and in full force. Ticks, both hard ticks (ixodid ticks) and soft ticks (argasid ticks), transmit more than two dozen disease-causing pathogens to humans in the United States., and many more to pets, livestock and wildlife. The number of human cases of tick-borne diseases totaled more than 60,000 in 2017! Large numbers of certain attached/blood-feeding tick species can cause tick paralysis as a direct result of their saliva injected into the host during the blood-feeding process. Aside from the threat of disease and paralysis, ticks can also be a significant and frustrating pest when you are trying to enjoy the outdoors.

This year there is a relatively new and alarming human health threat caused by ticks called "Red Meat Allergy" or "Alpha-gal Syndrome." This allergic syndrome is a response experienced by some people to their repeated exposure (i.e., being fed upon) by Lone Star Ticks (Amblyomma Americanum). Lone Star ticks occur in areas of the Southeast through the Eastern regions of the United States (see Keuhn BM. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2018;319(4):332. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.20802).

The newest threat to pets and livestock in the United States is the Asian Longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), first detected in New Jersey in August 2017. The Asian Longhorned tick has not been reported to transmit diseases to humans in the United States, but is considered a significant threat causing anemia and blood loss in livestock and pets as a result of the massive numbers that infest them (see Fleming M. Contagion Live Newsletter, NOV 30, 2018.)