Health Department Identifies Single Asian Longhorned Tick on Staten Island

Although never seen before in NYC, the longhorned tick has been found in surrounding areas and has not been shown to transmit disease to people in the United States

The Health Department recently announced enhanced tick surveillance and control on Staten Island in response to the presence of the blacklegged tick

New Yorkers should continue to take precautions against tick bites

August 8, 2018 — The Health Department today announced that a recently recognized invasive tick species now found in parts of the United States was for the first time in New York City. The tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, also known as the longhorned tick, was found in the southern section of Staten Island. The tick is primarily found on livestock and wild animals, and has not been shown to transmit disease in the United States. The Health Department identified this species and worked with Rutgers University Center for Vector Biology to confirm the identification.

Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo announced a new initiative that will enhance tick surveillance, outreach and control measures on Staten Island to reduce the risk of Lyme and other diseases that are acquired from certain types of ticks found on Staten Island including the blacklegged tick. The City will increase spending by approximately $600,000 a year.

“While it has been reported that the longhorned tick has transmitted disease to humans in other parts of the world such as China, it has not been shown to transmit diseases in the United States” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “As more research is done, the Department will continue to aggressively monitor and control ticks on Staten Island and throughout the City and urge all New Yorkers to take the necessary precautions against tick bites. Even simple measures, such as using repellent and wearing light colored clothing, can make a significant difference.”

“This new discovery underscores the importance of our recent efforts to control the tick population and educate Staten Islanders about protecting themselves from Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “We will continue to work with the Administration on tick control methods, including our bait box initiative, as well as focus on educating local residents on how to prevent tick bites.

The longhorned tick, originally found in eastern Asia, especially China, Korea and Japan, is also typically found in Australia and New Zealand. In these areas the longhorned tick is most notable for its impact on farm animals as it transmits several diseases including bovine theileriosis and babesiosis. In Asia, the tick has been known to spread thrombocytopenia syndrome virus to humans. This is a disease that causes fever, low blood platelet count and a decrease in white blood cells. Human pathogens such as Lyme disease have not been detected in these ticks in the U.S.

This year, the Health Department has enhanced its tick surveillance on Staten Island. The agency will conduct tick surveillance in 31 sites: 28 in Staten Island, two in the Bronx and one in Brooklyn. Fifteen pilot sites were surveyed during high tick activity season from May to July: two in Manhattan, four in the Bronx, seven in Queens and two in Brooklyn. Surveillance data will be used to monitor tick densities and their geographic distribution. Ticks collected during surveillance are tested to determine the prevalence of tick-borne diseases.

The Health Department also worked closely with NYC Parks and the Staten Island Borough President’s Office on the Deer Task Force as part of the integrated deer impact management plan to conduct outreach and education efforts at social gatherings, public meetings and health fairs about tick-borne illnesses. As a part of this effort, tick surveillance was expanded in 2017 and a media campaign was launched to increase awareness about disease carrying ticks.

Recommendations to Prevent Tick Bites and Tick-Borne Illnesses

  • Reduce your risk at home — create a tick safe zone.
    • Remove leaf litter.
    • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
    • Mow the lawn frequently.
    • Speak to your veterinarian about tick prevention products for your pet dogs and cats.
  • Repel, don’t attract, ticks.
    • Use an approved insect repellent containing picaridin, DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under 3), or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535.
    • Stay in the center of cleared paths and hiking trails when walking in heavily-wooded areas.
    • Treat clothing and shoes with 0.5 percent permethrin. Permethrin is a contact insecticide that kills ticks or other insects.
    • Wear light-colored clothing to allow you to better see ticks that crawl on your clothing.
  • After being outdoors in wooded, brushy or tall, grassy areas.
    • Check for ticks on your body and clothing and remove any ticks you find on yourself, your child or your pet.
    • Young ticks are very small (about the size of a poppy seed), so seek help to inspect not easily reachable areas. Be sure to look carefully in areas of the body where hair is present, since it may make it difficult to see the ticks. Adult ticks are about the size of an apple seed.
    • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors, preferably within two hours.
    • If you get a rash or a fever, let the doctor know if you may have been exposed to ticks, even if you don't remember having a tick bite.
    • Ticks on people or pets should be removed promptly. Refer to the tick removal video.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Danielle De Souza, (347) 396-4177
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov.