By Matt Reese
It wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. This summer, Morgan County Extension educator Chris Penrose came to his office to find a container of a suspicious creature to identify. In many cases, the contents of the jars are unremarkable. This was not the case with this man.
“When I opened it, I saw a bunch of ticks in there and I was like, ‘uh oh,'” Penrose said.
After samples from the jar were sent to Columbus for further analysis, Penrose’s suspicions were confirmed: The Asian longhorned tick had made its way into Morgan County cattle pastures.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced that in the summer of 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the discovery of the Asian longhorned tick in Gallia County. A tick was found on a stray dog. The tick was identified by Ohio State University and sent to a federal laboratory for confirmation.
The Asian longhorned tick is an exotic East Asian tick known to be a serious livestock pest. The USDA first confirmed the presence of this tick in the US in 2017 in New Jersey. Asian longhorned ticks are light brown in color and very small, often smaller than a sesame seed. A mature female is about the size of a pea when full of blood. Larvae, nymphs and adults can be present at the same time.
Asian longhorned ticks are difficult to detect due to their size and rapid movement. They are known to carry pathogens that can cause disease in humans and livestock, and can also cause distress to the host if they feed in large quantities, causing death in some cases. The Asian longhorned tick has been spreading since it was first discovered in Ohio.
“I think they were found in Monroe County last year and maybe another county in southern Ohio,” Penrose said. “We kept it in the back of our minds to focus on that. When the jar came in, that’s what piqued my interest and, of course, the interest of our local veterinarian as well.”
Along with all the creepy-crawlies inherent to ticks, Asian long-horned ticks can reproduce sexually.
“They don’t need a mate to reproduce,” Penrose said. “Each tick can lay up to 2,000 eggs so you can see how quickly they can expand and basically outrun the cow. “I think those numbers can add up so fast and so much that they can actually draw enough blood from a cow to kill it.”
That worried the cattle producer behind the tick-filled jar at the Extension office.
“At the beginning of the summer, when the farmer went to work them after they were born, he saw a few ticks on some of the baby calves. He didn’t think much of it, but later he noticed a bunch of ticks on some of the cattle. Our local vet was able to come out and treat them. The farmer moved the cattle to another field. There has been much debate about how quickly these ticks reproduce, but they don’t go very far. More nymphs were found this fall, but they’ve got it under control for this season. The farmers in the neighborhood who had cattle had no problem with them,” Penrose said. “And it involved not only our local veterinarian, OSU Extension and OSU veterinarians, but also our friends at the Ohio Department of Agriculture and our USDA veterinarians. we have also informed the health department.It was really comforting to have a team of different agencies working together to really solve this case.
Although the tick season ends at the end of the year, monitoring livestock for Asian longhorned ticks (and their potential to spread) is important with time to develop a strategy for 2023. the skin is thin on the head, neck, ears, flanks, armpits, groin, udder and under the tail.
“There are some insecticides or some casts that can be used, but there may be some resistance to some species. Another problem is that many of the casts we use are not labeled for ticks, even though they work on ticks,” Penrose said. “So if you happen to have a veterinarian in your area, it’s important to establish a client-patient relationship with a veterinarian so that you can find a solution. Some Ivomec-type products will work for a long time, while others may not. If it’s really bad, you should consider something like a mineral tub or a rubber back with insecticide that you can put next to the water source.
Ticks move by riding on something else.
“They can move over wildlife, people, equipment, everything. That’s what scares him. You should check not only your cattle, but also your goats, sheep, dogs and cats. It is very important to have pets on one of these good, preventative medications to keep ticks off our animals,” said Penrose. “They’re still trying to learn about it, but it can definitely be a problem. We need to think about how to prevent the spread of these ticks. We have to be really careful because it’s easier to solve problems if you can solve them early rather than when it’s too late for breeding. It’s an evolving situation that we hope we can learn more from and really not cause any additional problems for livestock.
Asian longhorned tick bites in Kentucky blamed on cattle with microscopic protozoan parasite (Theileria orientalis) which infects the red blood cells of cattle and causes anemia. The problem can also be transmitted through blood transfusions from contaminated needles and equipment.
“The tick can feed on many species of animals, including humans, but the blood parasite only affects livestock. “Once a cow is infected, it can take 1 to 8 weeks before it shows symptoms,” said Michelle Arnold of the University of Kentucky’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. there is no cure or vaccine to prevent infections.However, once infected cattle become carriers and are protected from new infections.Persistent infection has no known long-term health or production effects. Theileria is not a public health concern and contact with affected livestock does not pose a human health or food safety risk.
about TheileriaArnold suggests cattle producers pay attention to the following:
• Most infected cattle have limited or mild clinical signs. The symptoms are very similar to anaplasmosis, another tick-borne disease that causes anemia.
• Affected cattle show signs of anemia, including lethargy, pale or yellow-colored (yellow) mucous membranes, and increased respiration and heart rate. Difficulty breathing can be mistaken for pneumonia, especially in young animals.
• Affected cattle may become intolerant of exercise and may lag behind the rest of the herd or become solitary.
• Affected cows may be off feed, have fever and sudden weight loss.
• Sudden death may be observed especially in late pregnant and early lactating cows.
• Late-term abortions may occur due to lack of oxygen to the fetus and may subsequently result in calf death. Metritis may follow in the cow. Breeding bulls may have decreased libido from 1 to 1.5 months.
• Calves especially 6-8 weeks but up to 6 months may show symptoms.
For cattle showing signs of anemia, Arnold suggests:
• Contact a veterinarian. Theileriosis and anaplasmosis look almost identical, so treatment with an approved antibiotic (LA-300 or Baytril 100-CA1) is recommended for the treatment of anaplasmosis. However, if Theileria is the reason, there will be no response to antibiotic therapy. A blood test is available to check for this disease.
• Stress and movement of affected animals should be minimized because their reduced red blood cell count reduces their ability to carry oxygen around the body. This can lead to collapse and death. Affected animals should be rested, provided with high-quality feed and water, and treated only if necessary.
• No cure available Theileria infection other than supportive care. Blood can be transfused for valuable animals. Depending on the severity of anemia, recovery can last from 1 to 2 months.
• Ease any underlying illness or stress. Cows in late pregnancy, early lactation and young calves (2-3 months) are more susceptible to severe disease. Pay close attention to cows at calving, avoid trace mineral deficiencies, and vaccinate cattle against the immunosuppressive BVD virus.
To control Asian longhorned ticks, Arnold said:
• Ticks spend most of their time, about 90%, in the environment. Although only a small portion of the tick population is on livestock at any given time, treating livestock with a tick repellent will reduce the numbers that feed and move on to the next stage of the tick life cycle. This will ultimately affect the number of eggs laid in the pasture and help control the spread of the disease. There are currently no acaricides labeled for use against Asian longhorned ticks. Use of ear tags, drops, sprays, and back rubs impregnated with pesticides that control the American dog tick and the Lonestar tick should be helpful in tick control. Macrocyclic lactone anthelmintics such as Cydectin Pour-on and Dectomax injectable products have field reports of success.
• Environmental management includes mowing pastures, especially shaded areas, and fencing livestock from wooded areas to reduce contact with ticks. Perimeter fencing a minimum of 20 feet away from wooded areas will reduce the number of ticks in the pasture. All stages of the tick love warm, humid conditions and long grass. Avoiding ungrazed long range pastures, such as cropland edges and brushy areas, will reduce the likelihood of animals picking up ticks. Remember that wildlife can host ticks and move ticks to new areas.
• Treat new cattle for ticks upon arrival on the farm and before moving cattle from one property to another to prevent the movement of infected ticks.
• Calves should also be closely inspected for signs of ticks and anemia.
The Ohio State University Extension has a fact sheet on Asian longhorned ticks: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/vme-1035.