Rutgers scientists and other scientists have created a visual guide to help identify and control the Asian tick, which transmits lethal human disease to their homeland and threatens cattle in the United States.
Damage has been found in most of the eastern United States thanks to discoveries in which researchers at the University of Rutgers played a key role. Scientists are now trying to figure out how these invasive ticks have become widespread in North America. But this is a complicated job, especially since Asian cucumbers are almost identical to two indigenous species – rabbits and bird chunks, which are mostly harmless to humans.
Now, a team of research associates who include members of the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology, has created a guide that makes it easy for anyone with a strong enough microscope to say Asian ticks except those of North American relatives as well as the Middle American type.
Guide, published in ZooKeys, identifies tiny details – such as two triangular, daggers in the mouth of adult Asian ticks – that separate ticks from each other. These details are visible on electron microscopy images taken by collaborators of the research team.
"To begin to understand the threat of Asian ticks in the United States, we need to know its entire schedule," said Dr. Andrea Egizi, a visiting professor at Rutgers' Center for Vectorial Biology, and a researcher at the Monmouth County Flu Symptoms Program. "We have created this key to make researchers across the country an easier way to identify them."
Collaboration between Rutgers County and Monmouth County led to the identification of an Asian long-term tick in 2017, after Hunterdon County was found to have been infected with petfood poultry and later confirmed by the National Laboratory of USDA Veterinary Services. In April 2018, the group found that ticks survived the winter in New Jersey. Since then, Asian ties have been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
"We now know that the Asian brand is present in New Jersey at least in 2013, but this first discovery, found on a dog in Union County, was initially replaced by rabbits," said Dina Fonseca, director of Rutgers's Center for Vectorial Biology . "We hope this visual guide will help us identify and control the spread of this tick."
Asian cucumbers of origin were born in eastern Asia, where they transmit potentially fatal diseases to humans. They are invasive and serious cattle pests in Australia and New Zealand. They are reproduced asexually, meaning that an unmarried woman can produce many offspring offspring, allowing them to spread rapidly.
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