Association of the invasive Haemaphysalis longicornis tick with vertebrate hosts, other native tick vectors, and tick-borne pathogens in New York City
Haemaphysalis longicornis, the Asian longhorned tick, is an invasive ixodid tick that has rapidly spread across the northeastern and southeastern regions of the United States since first reported in 2017. The emergence of H. longicornis presents a potential threat for livestock, wildlife, and human health as the host associations and vector potential of this invasive pest in the United States are poorly understood. Previous field data from the United States has shown that H. longicornis was not
... associated with natural populations of small mammals or birds, but they show a preference for medium sized mammals in laboratory experiments. Therefore, medium and large sized mammals were sampled on Staten Island, New York to determine H. longicornis host associations and vector potential for a range of human and veterinary pathogens. A total of 97 hosts were sampled and five species of tick (Amblyomma americanum, Dermacentor variabilis, H. longicornis, Ixodes scapularis, Ixodes cookei) were found feeding concurrently on these hosts. Haemaphysalis longicornis was found in the highest proportions compared to other native tick species on raccoons (55.4%), Virginia opossums (28.9%), and white-tailed deer (11.5%). Tissue, blood, and engorged larvae were tested for 17 different pathogens using a nanoscale PCR platform. Infection with five pathogens (Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Rickettsia spp., Mycoplasma haemocanis, and Bartonella spp.) was detected in host samples, but no pathogens were found in any larval samples. These results suggest that although large and medium sized mammals feed large numbers of H. longicornis ticks in the environment there is presently a low potential for H. longicornis to acquire pathogens from these wildlife hosts.