‘Very aggressive,’ swarming ticks that can kill animals invade SC

Health experts have warning for people and pet owners
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 11:01 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2022 at 11:10 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control held a briefing on Monday to talk about an aggressive tick species that has invaded South Carolina.

Officials recently found a “large population” of Asian longhorned ticks on a commercial cattle farm pasture in York County. This is the first time they have been seen in the state in large numbers, but in 2020 some were found on shelter dogs in Pickens and Lancaster counties.

While Asian longhorned ticks are currently a “localized problem” in South Carolina, officials are concerned because they can lay 1,000 to 2,000 eggs at a time - and they can reproduce without mating.

“This tick could overwhelm dogs or livestock or people,” one panelist at the DHEC briefing said.

Asian longhorned ticks are small and hard to spot, but DHEC said they are “very aggressive feeders.” They can swarm in large numbers, causing anemia, blood loss and even shock resulting in death to animals that become covered in them.

While investigating the infestation in York County, DHEC experts said even with precautions they found many of the ticks on themselves.

DHEC experts said during Monday’s briefing that Asian longhorned ticks can spread a large variety of different pathogens including Lyme disease.

Pet and livestock owners should consult with their veterinarian about tick prevention treatment. DHEC said regular tick prevention is effective against the Asian longhorned tick.

DHEC has a tick surveillance program where you can submit suspected Asian longhorned ticks for confirmation. Send ticks in a sealable vial or zippered storage bag to:

The Laboratory of Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases921 Assembly Street #417A Columbia, SC 29201

Please include:

  • Your contact information
  • Address of where the tick was collected (if not a street address, provide directions and distances from nearby road intersections)
  • Date of collection
  • Type of animal (or human) on which the tick was found