A tiny invasive tick from Asia continues its spread across Tennessee.

State agricultural officials said the Asian longhorned tick has been detected in several additional counties, including Jefferson, Claiborne, Cocke, Putnam, and Sevier.  In May, the invasive pest was confirmed in Union and Roane Counties and UT researchers told 10News in June that it was detected in Knox County.

The insect is known to carry illnesses in Asia, but so far none of the Asian longhorned ticks found in the United States have transmitted anything harmful to humans.

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There are concerns that the tick may transmit the agent of Theileriosis in cattle, and heavy infestations can cause blood loss and lead to death. 

“Tennessee has numerous animal hosts and a suitable habitat for this tick species,” Dr. R.T. Trout Fryxell, Associate Professor of Medical and Veterinary Entomology for UTIA, said. “While it is always important to be diligent and keep an eye out for all ticks, the unique biology of the Asian longhorned tick helps this species to establish quickly and become a problem.”

The Asian longhorned ticks are different due to their small size and the fact that females can lay eggs and reproduce without mating.

Cattle and dogs are particularly susceptible to tick bites. State experts said farmers should apply a tick treatment to cattle prior to bringing them to your farm and dog owners should provide their animals with a tick preventative and check for ticks.

Tips to prevent tick bites in animals and livestock include:

  • Coordinate with your veterinarian to determine appropriate pest prevention for pets and livestock.
  • Check pets and livestock for ticks frequently.
  • Remove any ticks by pulling from the attachment site of the tick bite with tweezers.
  • Monitor your pets and livestock for any changes in health

If your animals are bitten by a tick, Dr. Fryxell suggests putting the tick in a ziplock bag, writing down the date and where the tick was most likely encountered, and storing it in a freezer.