Special to 1808Delaware

The Ohio Department of Health confirmed that two invasive species of ticks, an Asian longhorned tick and a Gulf Coast tick, were recently found by Delaware Public Health District environmental health staff while actively monitoring for ticks in local community parks.

The ticks were found in Lewis Center and the City of Delaware and identified by Health District environmental health specialists who sent them for confirmation to the Ohio Department of Health. 

The Asian longhorned tick is the first to be reported in Delaware County. This tick is an exotic East Asian tick that is known as a serious pest to livestock. The U.S. Department of Agriculture first confirmed the presence of this tick in New Jersey in 2017.

Asian longhorned ticks are difficult to detect due to their small size and quick movement. They are known to carry pathogens, which can cause disease in livestock and humans. In the U.S., the tick has been found in or near counties with large horse, cattle, and sheep populations. To protect against infestations, farmers should check their livestock for ticks regularly. If producers spot unusual looking ticks or large infestations, report this to your local veterinarian or Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health at (614) 728-6220.

The Gulf Coast tick was last reported in 2009 in Delaware County and is mainly located in the Atlantic Coast and along the Gulf Coast of Mexico in the U.S. Pathogens associated with the Gulf Coast tick are Rickettsia parkeri, which causes a form of spotted fever in humans.  

Preventative measures such as keeping grass and weeds trimmed, in addition to clearing away brush on feedlots and pastures, can also help. Livestock producers and owners should notify ODA’s Division of Animal Health immediately at (614) 728-6220 if they notice unusual ticks that have not been seen before or that occur in large numbers on an animal.

DPHD environmental health staff will continue to monitor the areas where these ticks were found in addition to other area parks.

Sarah Fink, Health District Solid Waste and Vector Program Manager, uses a tick drag at a local park in an effort to check for the presence ticks and identify any possible invasive or exotic ticks in Delaware County.

Tips to protect yourself from ticks include:

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Use insect repellents registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) labeled for use against ticks on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours. Always follow the product label.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and tuck shirts into pants to keep ticks on the outside of your clothing.
  • Light-colored clothing will help you spot ticks more easily.

If you find a tick attached to your skin, the best way to remove it is to use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull away from your skin with steady, even pressure. Wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water.

If you have been bitten by a tick, watch for symptoms such as fever/chills, aches and pains, or rash. See your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms.

Image by svklimkin from Pixabay

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