Asian longhorned tick

A view of the nymph (left) and adult female Asian longhorned tick.

CONCORD — An invasive tick species was recently discovered in New Hampshire, prompting state officials to ask people to be on the lookout for the Asian longhorned tick.

The tick, which has been found in nine states since late last year, has not been linked to any diseases in the United States. But in other parts of the world, the tick has spread diseases, including anaplasmosis and babesiosis, two diseases that are spread in New Hampshire by deer ticks.

The invasive tick was recently noticed on a dog visiting New Hampshire from New York, according to the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food. Officials said “a particularly observant New Hampshire resident” noticed the tick, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Sciences laboratory confirmed it was Asian longhorned tick, or Haemaphysalis longicornis.

“This is the first time the pest has been found in NH, but it may be limited to the visiting dog,” the state Department of Agriculture said in a release.

“I got the impression there were a lot of ticks (on the dog),” said Gail McWilliam Jellie, director of Agricultural Development for the state Agriculture Department. She referred other questions to her department’s veterinarian, who was not available.

The news of a possible new tick comes as state wildlife officials have begun to express guarded optimism over slight reductions in the high moose-calf mortality, which scientists have linked to infestations of native ticks.

Like the ticks that have reduced the moose herd, thousands of Asian longhorned tick can attach to a single host animal. In the nine states, the ticks have been found on sheep, goats, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, deer, opossums, raccoons and humans.

“A severe infestation can kill the animal due to blood loss,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture warned in a bulletin about the tick. The U.S. Agriculture Department also said a single tick can create a population in a new location.

Jellie said she was unsure what measures, if any, were taken to determine if any ticks had detached from the visiting dog.

“Typically, the only way people find ticks is on an animal or themselves,” she said. It is difficult to find them in nature, she said.

“This tick already appears to be established in the environment in a number of states, so eradication from the (United States) is unlikely,” said Steve Crawford, New Hampshire state veterinarian, in a statement issued by the state Agriculture Department. “The frequency of people traveling with animals they own, whether it is household pets going on vacation, horses going for trail rides, or livestock going to fairs, increases the potential for this tick to be spread across the country.”

Crawford said he hopes to prevent the introduction of the Asian longhorned tick in New Hampshire for as long as possible.

According to the state Division of Public Health, Lyme disease is the most frequent disease transmitted by ticks. In 2015, 1,371 cases of Lyme disease were reported; 1,416 in 2014. Other diseases include anaplasmosis — 240 over 2014 and 2015 — and baseiosis; 95 over the two year period.

All three diseases are transmitted in New Hampshire by the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick. Lyme disease has been linked to nervous system disorders, heart abnormalities and intermittent episodes of joint swelling and pain. Anaplasmosis and babesiosis symptoms are flu like.

Officials said normal tick treatments and prevention measures should be effective against the longhorned tick.

mhayward@unionleader.com