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New tick species makes its way to North Carolina

(Sinclair Broadcasting photo)

RALEIGH -- A new tick species has made its way into North Carolina.

A tick that was attached to an opossum in Polk County was identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a Longhorned tick.

Longhorned ticks are exotic East Asian ticks that were first identified in New Jersey in 2017.

The Longhorned tick is known to be a dangerous pest of livestock.

North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services described the tick as an aggressive biter that frequently builds "intense infestations on the animal, causing great stress, reduced growth and production, and blood loss."

The NCDA is urging livestock owners to keep a close eye on their animals.

To make matters worse, the Longhorned tick can reproduce parthenogenetically (without a male) and a single fed female tick can create a localized population.

These ticks are also known to carry several disease-causing viruses, bacteria, and protozoa.

Even though the tick has yet to be linked to any human infection in the U.S., N.C. Division of Public Health is working with NCDA&CS to understand its distribution and monitor for diseases it may carry.

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