Self-Cloning Tick Species Could Invade NYC From Harlem Too Hollis This Year, Study Warns

An invasive tick species that can clone itself and make humans sick may pose a greater threat to New York City than researchers previously thought writes Patch.

According to researchers that a new Harlem-based Columbia University study published in the journal “Emerging Infectious Diseases.”

The tick species, which is currently concentrated on the southern end of Staten Island, was found in 16 of 32 parks surveyed by researchers in 2018 — a spike from the 7 parks where it was found the year before.

Columbia researchers predict that New York City’s population of Asian longhorned ticks — scientifically known as Haemaphysalis longicornis — is expanding and may be too advanced to contain. The tick species, which is currently concentrated on the southern end of Staten Island, was found in 16 of 32 parks surveyed by researchers in 2018 — a spike from the 7 parks where it was found the year before.

The tick’s ability to clone itself through asexual reproduction and lay up to 2,000 eggs at a time in sexual reproduction makes the bug incredibly difficult to contain, researchers said. From 2017 to 2018 the density of the tick population rose an astounding 1,698 percent.

The tick’s ability to clone itself through asexual reproduction and lay up to 2,000 eggs at a time in sexual reproduction makes the bug incredibly difficult to contain, researchers said. From 2017 to 2018 the density of the tick population rose an astounding 1,698 percent.

“The fact that longhorned tick populations are so high in southern Staten Island will make control of this species extremely difficult,” Meredith VanAcker, a Ph.D. researcher from the Columbia lab that conducted the study, said in a statement. “And because females don’t need to find male mates for reproduction, it is easier for the population to spread.”

These ticks don’t play nice when it comes to human interaction, researchers said. While the danger to New Yorkers is currently unknown, the Asian longhorned tick has been reported to spread a virus that can cause diseases in humans in its native continents of Asia and Australia, according to the Columbia study.

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It is the first new species of a tick to be found in the U.S. in 50 years, according to reports from 2018.

Asian longhorned tick populations have been found in places such as Staten Island, New Jersey, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas, researchers said. It is the first new species of a tick to be found in the U.S. in 50 years, according to reports from 2018.

“The concern with this tick is that it could transmit human pathogens and make people sick,” Columbia researcher Maria Diuk-Wasser, whose lab led the study and comprehensive “tick census” on Staten Island, said in a statement.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that no harmful germs have been found in Asian longhorned ticks collected in the United States as of March 25 of this year. The federal agency suggests that people who think they have found one of the ticks should remove the tick from any person or animal it is found on, preserve it a jar or ziplock bag and contact their local health department for advice.

Read the full Columbia study here.

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