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Asian longhorned tick

obovis
Contributor(s):

Vetstream Ltd

Mike Reynolds

Synonym(s): Haemaphysalis longicornis, Longhorned tick, Busk tick, Cattle tick, New Zealand cattle tick


Introduction

Classification

Taxonomy

  • Phylum: Arthropoda.
  • Class: Arachnida.
  • Order: Ixodida.
  • Family: Ixodidae.
  • Genus: Haemaphysalis.
  • Species: H. longicornis (Neumann, 1901).

Active Forms

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Resting Forms

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Clinical Effects

Epidemiology

Habitat

  • A wide variety of environmental conditions and temperatures (from -2-40oC/28.4-104oF) have been found to support this tick, from moist, warm regions in Australia, New Guinea and the western Pacific islands, to cooler northern latitudes in the northern hemisphere (China, Japan) and southern parts of Australia and New Zealand.
  • Long periods of the tick’s life cycle are spent off the hosts within the environment in vegetation, molting and waiting for a suitable host.
  • In New Zealand, H. longicornis ticks prefer Dallas grass (Paspalum dilatatum) and rushes (Juncus spp) and areas with unmown grass and manicured lawn have also been found suitable in the US.
  • Ticks are attracted to a vertebrate host by a combination of its body warmth and exhaled carbon dioxide. Active forms climb the vegetation, transferring to the host on contact as it passes by.
  • Ticks survive in woodlands and other uncultivated areas, pastures and in residential areas.

Lifecycle

  • Tick activity, survival and abundance is influenced by the integration of temperature, humidity, photoperiod and host availability.
  • In general, the principal seasonal activity of unfed females is in early spring, larvae are active in the summer and nymphs and females are the main overwintering stages, however overlapping of the life stages occurs in some regions.
  • The period of seasonal activity depends predominantly on the environmental temperature (and is therefore related to latitude). Southern hemisphere populations have activity periods of 10-11 months, which is similar in Korea, but the further north H. longicornis populations are found (in the northern hemisphere) generally the shorter is the seasonal activity period, eg 4 months (June to September) at 43oN on mainland Japan.
  • Haemaphysalis longicornis is a three-host tick (each stage falls off the host into the environment after feeding, molts, and finds another host for the next stage).
  • Engorged female ticks can produce viable eggs after mating (sexual reproduction) or (in triploid races) without the need for mating with a male (asexual) – a process known as parthenogenesis.
  • Immature life stages (larvae and nymphs) are usually found on smaller hosts, such as hares, rodents and goats.
  • Adult ticks are frequently found on larger mammals, such as cattle and deer.
  • However, both life stages will attach and feed successfully on multiple species of domesticated and wild mammals, birds, and humans.

Pathological effects

  • Like with other tick species, heavy infestations of H. longicornis in cattle, horses, sheep and dogs may cause worry, dermatopathies, ill thrift, reduced animal performance and blood loss anemia Anemia: overview.
  • Transmission of pathogens, including:
    • Bovine theileriosis (Theileria orientalis) Theileriosis .
    • Coxiella burnetii Coxiella burnetii (the agent of coxiellosis in animals and Q fever in humans Q Fever).
    • Rickettsia japonica (zoonosis: Japanese spotted fever).
    • Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) (bunyavirus zoonosis).
  • DNA of the following pathogens has been detected in H. longicornis (transmission not proven):

Other Host Effects

  • Development of mammalian meat allergy (MMA) in humans has been attributed to the bite of Haemaphysalis longicornis in Japan.

Control

Control via animal

  • Endemic stability is often quoted by epidemiologists in relation to the interaction between ticks and their hosts. This term refers to the dynamic epidemiological state in which clinical disease is rare, in spite of a high incidence of infection within a population. Endemic stability is a valid epidemiological concept, particularly in relation to many tick species, but the evidence base to support this occurring with Asian longhorned ticks is limited at the time of publication.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Large animals, eg cattle and horses, are treated with pour-on (topical) acaricides or dips (cattle) Parasiticides - overview, however because ticks feed for a short time and spend long periods off the host, reliance on acaricides alone to reduce tick numbers and exposure to theileriosis is not a reliable management option and may have significant environmental impacts.

Control via environment

  • Difficult to achieve with success and without environmental contamination if acaricides are used.
  • For cattle (and to reduce the incidence of theileriosis) pasture management (keeping grass short or removing ticks using low-value stock) is recommended, as is pasture improvement (improved drainage, fencing off unimproved areas, etc).

Diagnosis

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Pritt B S (2020) Haemaphysalis longicornis in the United States and biting humans: Where do we go from here? Comm Infect Dis 70, 317 PubMed.
  • Rainey T, Occi J L, Robbins R G & Egizi A (2018) Discovery of Haemaphysalis longicornis (Ixodida: Ixodidae) parasitizing sheep in New Jersey, United States. J Med Entomology 55, 757-759 PubMed.
  • Heath A C G (2016) Biology, ecology and distribution of the tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis Neumann (Acari: Ixodidae) in New Zealand. N Z Vet J 64, 10-20 PubMed.
  • Hoogstraal H, Roberts F S H, Kohls G M, Tipton V J (1968) Review of Haemaphysalis (Kaiseriana) longicornis Neumann (resurrected) of Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, Japan, Korea and north-eastern China and USSR, and its parthenogenetic and bisexual populations (Ixodoidea, Ixodidae). J Parasitol 54, 1197-1213.

Other sources of information

  • USDA-APHIS (2020) National Haemaphysalis longicornis (Asian longhorned tick) Situation Report – As of September 14, 2020. Website: www.aphis.usda.gov (pdf download).

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