The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control held a briefing on Monday to discuss an aggressive tick species that have infiltrated the state.
Officials recently discovered a “large population” of Asian long-horned ticks on a commercial cattle farm pasture in York County. This is the first time they have been seen in large numbers in the state, but some were discovered on shelter dogs in Pickens and Lancaster counties in 2020.
Asian long-horned ticks can lay 1,000–2,000 eggs at a time and can multiply without mating, prompting officials to express alarm even if they are only a “limited problem” in South Carolina for now.
One speaker at the DHEC briefing warned that the tick “may overwhelm pets, animals, or people.”
Although tiny and difficult to see, Asian long-horned ticks are “extremely aggressive feeders,” according to DHEC. They can swarm in vast numbers, killing animals that become covered with them by inducing anemia, blood loss, and even shock.
Even with safeguards, many of the ticks were found on DHEC experts who were examining the issue in York County.
In their briefing on Monday, DHEC scientists noted that Asian longhorned ticks can transmit a wide range of infections, including Lyme disease.
Owners of pets and livestock should talk to their veterinarian about tick prevention measures. According to DHEC, frequent tick prevention is successful in preventing Asian longhorned ticks.