Invasive longhorned tick found in Westchester County

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The New York State Departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets confirmed the presence of the tick in Westchester County. (Image via Westchester County )

The longhorned tick has been spotted in Westchester County.

The New York State Departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets confirmed the presence of the tick, whose scientific name is Haemaphysalis longicornis, in the county.

The tick is native to Australia, New Zealand and eastern Asia, but it has been found recently in New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas and now New York.

"It is always better to prevent tick bites whenever possible and to remove ticks as soon as possible, and the discovery of a new tick in our area gives us one more reason to be vigilant in performing tick checks on ourselves, our children and pets," Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler said. "Farmers and livestock owners should consult with their veterinarians and continue to use the same preventive measures that work for other ticks."

The state and county health departments advise farmers with livestock to work with their veterinarians to check their animals, particularly cattle, sheep and horses, for exposure to ticks and to ensure their parasite control plans are up to date and working.

Symptoms of tick-borne disease in cattle include fever, lack of appetite, dehydration, weakness and labored breathing.
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Amy Freeze reports on the longhorn tick spotted 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

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.

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

While the longhorned tick has transmitted disease to humans in other parts of the world, more research is needed to determine whether this can happen in the United States.

If you have been bitten by a tick of any kind, contact your health care provider immediately if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms.

For more tips and information, check out the Westchester County website or contact the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Division of Animal Industry at 518-457-3502 or dai@agriculture.ny.gov.

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