According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Asian longhorned tick has spread across nine states since it first appeared in the U.S. In contrast to most tick species, a single female Asian longhorned tick can reproduce without mating. Females can make up to 2,000 eggs, according to the CDC. As a result, hundreds to thousands of ticks can be found on a single animal, person, or in the environment.
As reported by Reuters, the Asian longhorned tick has not been found to be infected with any diseases in the U.S. In other parts of the world, however, it can spread viruses, bacteria, and parasites known to infect people and animals, causing severe disease and death. Several of these pathogens are already found in the U.S., including Anaplasma (which causes anaplasmosis), Babesia (babesiosis), Borrelia (Lyme disease), Ehrlichia (ehrlichiosis), and Rickettsia (Rocky Mountain spotted fever).
According to Bobbi Pritt, M.D., Director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory and Co-Director of Vector-Borne Diseases Lab Services in Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, “At this time, there is no evidence that the Asian longhorned tick can transmit Lyme disease."
“However, a bacterium that is related to the Lyme disease-causing bacterium has been found in these ticks in Asia, so it is hypothetically possible,” said Dr. Pritt. “Therefore, it is always important to take steps to avoid ticks when outdoors.”