A new species of GMO tick has invaded America, rapidly cloning itself and spreading disease at an alarming rate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has warned.
The Longhorned tick, normally native to east Asia, was discovered in western North Carolina along the South Carolina border.
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Longhorned ticks are capable of spreading disease, and the females reproduce without a male, says the N.C. Department of Agriculture. That means a single female can create a colony anywhere in the state, officials say.
“It is an aggressive biter and frequently builds intense infestations on animals causing great stress … and blood loss,” said a statement issued by Michael Neault of the N.C. Department of Agriculture.
“It is a serious pest of livestock in its native regions ….This tick can spread pathogens among a diverse host range on which it feeds.”
Longhorned ticks are vulnerable to the same insecticides that kill other ticks, he said.
State officials say they are trying to find out how widespread the ticks have become and monitor for diseases they may potentially spread.
It can clone itself. It can carry human diseases. It will chow down on anything it can bite. The longhorned tick is no joke. https://t.co/u7ez5KCIS1
— Science News (@ScienceNews) July 7, 2018
Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are among the four diseases most commonly associated with ticks in N.C.
Most diseases spread by ticks can be treated with antibiotics if caught early, say state officials. However, death can result if the illness goes untreated, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
Longhorned ticks are believed to have been introduced into the country via New Jersey and have recently been found in Arkansas, Virginia and West Virginia, state officials said in a statement.