BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Officials are asking the public to keep an eye out for a new, invasive insect from Asia.
The Longhorned tick, which may be mistaken for a spider, has been confirmed to be next door to Maryland.
“It’s in New Jersey, West Virginia, and Virginia, and we just heard it’s in Arkansas,” said Maryland Department of Agriculture’s state veterinarian Dr. Michael Radebaugh.
The Longhorned tick is capable of making a meal from human blood, but seems to prefer animals as its major source for food.
“I had no idea this was going on,” Julie Jorczak said.
The MDA is asking people to keep an eye out for signs of tick infestations.
“It does seem to like livestock,” Dr. Radebaugh added. “In livestock, if there’s an unusual amount of ticks, we certainly want to hear about it.”
People who spend a lot of time outdoors on trails — like the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail in Cockeysville, Maryland — say they are definitely concerned.
“I’ve got three kids, that’s a lot of tick checks,” runner and mother Claire Marmen said.
Experts say the worry is that these ticks could be carrying diseases from Asia, and might eventually pick up and pass along diseases common in the U.S., like Lyme disease.
“Lyme disease, rocky mountain spotted fever, Q fever, and those type of diseases are not just a concern to animals, but also to people,” Dr. Radebaugh said.
It’s a major concern for a Baltimore County couple and their canine companion Ranger.
“We have relatives actually affected by it for a long, long, long time and they still take medication, so the answer definitely is ‘yes,'” Majid Mirza said.
Suspicious ticks will be collected and sent off to the lab for verification.
If they are Asian Longhorned ticks, they will also be studied for transmissible diseases.