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December 12, 2018

CDC warns of new tick species in U.S. that could spread disease to humans

November 30, 2018
The CDC said it’s still unclear what, if any, diseases the ticks carry. (David Goldman / AP)

A new tick species has crossed the world and is now putting people at risk in the southeast United States.

The Asian longhorned tick, which originated in Korea and other parts of east Asia, was first detected on a sheep in New Jersey in August 2017, the Center for Disease Control said in its weekly report Thursday.

Since then, the insect has popped up in eight other states throughout the east and southeast: New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas and North Carolina.

The CDC stressed that no humans have yet been infected, but it is possible.

The tick, which can drain enough blood from dairy cattle to drop milk production by 25%, has been known to cause human hemorrhagic fever in Asia, where up to 30% of victims have died. In 2013, South Korea reported 36 people infected with the disease; of those, 17 died.

Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, told the Washington Post that they still have no idea “if diseases will be spread by this tick in the United States and, if so, to what extent.”

“But it’s very important that we figure this out quickly,” he said.

In May, the CDC revealed that tick-borne illnesses, including Zika, West Nile and Lyme, have tripled in the United States between 2004 and 2016.

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