Longhorn Tick in Westchester CountyBackground

In July 2018, a Haemaphysalis longicornis tick, commonly known as the “longhorned tick” or “bush tick,” was identified in Westchester County, New York. This is the first time the longhorned tick has been found in New York State.

Longhorned ticks are native to eastern Asia. However, their presence in the United States was identified in New Jersey dating back to 2013. Longhorned ticks have also since been discovered in Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas and North Carolina.

It remains unclear when or how the longhorned tick first arrived in the United States. Some possible ways it may have been transported here include entering on a domestic pet (such as a dog), horses, livestock or humans.

Impact on Animals

Longhorned ticks pose a serious threat to livestock in eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand. There is concern that they could do the same here. The longhorned tick is capable of spreading the cattle disease theileriosis, which leads to anemia and sometimes death in livestock. Even without the transmission of theileriosis, if too many longhorned ticks attach to an animal, the loss of blood alone can cause death.

For more information about protecting livestock/animals visit https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/AI/AIHome.html, or contact the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Animal Industry at 518-457-3502 or dai@agriculture.ny.gov

Impact on Humans

Although longhorned ticks have transmitted disease to humans in other parts of the world, more research is needed to determine whether this can happen in the United States. In southeast Asia, the longhorned tick has been associated with Rickettsia japonica (spotted fever rickettsiosis), Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTS), Powassan, and Huaiyangshan virus hemorrhagic fever.

To date, testing of longhorned ticks in neighboring New Jersey for human diseases has been negative and the diseases this tick has been associated with in southeast Asia may not reflect the risk that it may pose here. The Health Department will continue to work with federal and state partners to determine what impact the longhorned tick may have on human health in New York.

Tick-borne Disease Prevention

Although the longhorned tick does not pose a risk to human health at this time, residents, visitors and farmers should continue to take measures to protect against tick bites. Tick-borne diseases, including Lyme Disease, ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis and babesiosis are reported in Westchester County. 

How to prevent tick bites

  • Avoid tick-infested areas (wooded or grassy areas), especially during the spring and summer months.
  • Wear light-colored, tightly-woven clothes to spot ticks more easily.
  • Wear pants, a long sleeved shirt, socks and shoes when enjoying outdoor activities. Tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants to create a barrier between ticks and your skin.
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET and permethrin according to label instructions when spending time outdoors in grassy or wooded areas.
  • Do tick checks after outdoor activities such as gardening, hiking or picnicking, but at least once a day. Inspect the entire body (parents should check their children) and remove ticks promptly.

View a video on how to prevent tick bites

Tick control on your property

  • Keep grass cut short.
  • Remove leaf litter and debris which can act as a moist environment for ticks to thrive in.
  • Create a 3 foot barrier of wood chips between your lawn and bushy vegetation or wooded areas.
  • Select plantings that do not attract deer.

How to remove a tick

If you should find a tick attached to your skin, follow these steps to remove it correctly:

  • Use a pair of clean, fine-point tweezers and grasp the tick at the place of attachment (by the head or mouthparts), as close to the skin as possible. Do not grasp the tick by the body.
  • Pull the tick firmly and steadily outward. DO NOT twist the tick.
  • Place the tick in a small vial or container with rubbing alcohol or vegetable oil to kill it.
  • Clean the bite with disinfectant.
  • DO NOT put petroleum jelly, a hot match, alcohol or any other irritant on the tick before removing it. This can increase the chances of an infected tick transmitting bacteria to you.
  • Monitor the site of the bite for the next 30 days for the appearance of a rash, and report any other early

View a video on how to safely remove a tick