A new threat had crossed the border into the United States. But unlike most threats we are familiar with, this one is hard to see and stays under the radar – until it hurts you. Longhorned ticks often carry and spread a virus which has been known to be deadly. Its symptoms include a terrible fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome. Researchers aren’t making this up – that’s what they did in Asia before they came to the US.
The first longhorned tick was spotted in New Jersey in the summer of 2017. Experts prayed it was only a fluke and more were not on their way. But now they know their worries were not for naught. This deadly tick is here, and it seems to be here to stay.
The tick has spread from its place of origin in New Jersey up and down the East Coast. And for the first time ever, it has been found in New York City – and that’s not good. With more than eight million people living in the city, such a tick could wreak havoc on untold lives.
The tick was found in the borough of Staten Island. And while the tick is most famous for infecting livestock and wild animals with the diseases it carries, it does not hesitate to suck human blood and put people at risk as well.
Ticks emerge every year in late spring and early summer. That means from the months of May, June, and July people need to start watching out for ticks. And each year, they seem to carry more diseases than the year before, and some that seem to best science’s top vaccinations and cures.
Since the first longhorned tick immigrated to New Jersey from Asia, it has crossed the border into other states including West Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Longhorned ticks are a concern and a newsworthy topic because of SFTS. Although the disease has not been reported in the United States (cross your fingers that it won’t!), the tick has the power to change that.
As mentioned, SFTS or severe fever thrombocytopenia syndrome can prove fatal. It causes fever, as the name suggests, and also lowers blood platelet count, which can put people at risk of death.
The symptoms of SFTS include chills, fatigue, nausea, headache, diarrhea, muscle pain, abdominal pain, and vomiting. That means it has flu-like symptoms that may be hard to differentiate from other diseases, which makes it even more threatening.
Scientists want to know more, but it’s too early to understand how deadly the longhorned tick will be for Americans. And with such a small sample size, researchers don’t know the full breadth of diseases this foreign tick can transmit.
Americans are worried. Because a new health threat appears to emerge every year or sooner, it can be frustrating always to feel like things are changing. But they are, and we need to stay on top of it for our health and for the better health of the ones we love.
Keep clear of ticks this summer.