Residents of New York’s Staten Island have another reason to apply insect repellent and obsessively check for ticks this spring and summer: the population of a new, potentially dangerous invasive pest known as the Asian long-horned tick has grown dramatically across the borough, according to Columbia University researchers. And the tick—which, unlike other local species, can clone itself in large numbers--is likely to continue its conquest in the months ahead. "The concern with this tick is that it could transmit human pathogens and make people sick," explains researcher Maria Diuk-Wasser, PhD, an Associate Professor in the Columbia University Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, who studies ticks and human disease risk. In a new study, published in the April 2019 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Dr. Diuk-Wasser and colleagues provide the most exhaustive local census of the new species to date--and suggest the Staten Island infestation is far more advanced than previously known. The open-access article (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/4/18-1541_article) is titled “Distribution, Host-Seeking Phenology, and Host and Habitat Associations of Haemaphysalis longicornis Ticks, Staten Island, New York, USA.” The researchers found the species Haemaphysalis longicornis in 7 of 13 parks surveyed in 2017 and in 16 of 32 parks surveyed in 2018. In one park, the density of the ticks per 1,000 square meters rose almost 1,698 percent between 2017 and 2018, with the number of ticks picked up in the sample area rising from 85 to 1,529. They also found the ticks on anesthetized deer from the area. This disturbing news comes less than a year after the New York City Department of Health announced the discovery of the first member of the species in the city--a single tick--found on southern Staten Island in August 2018.
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