Rutgers experts publish first scientific list of tick species confirmed in New Jersey

A Rutgers-led team has published the first scientific list of tick species confirmed in New Jersey and recommends tick surveillance across New Jersey.

“Our hope is that this work will aid in the development of standardized hard tick surveillance across NJ, thus facilitating more accurate assessments of tick-borne disease risk as well as the development of strategies to minimize such risk statewide,” the authors write in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

Furthermore, “a carefully tailored statewide tick surveillance program could provide basic but necessary information on which tick species are present, their principal hosts and any pathogens that they may carry and transmit. With this information in hand, public health professionals and physicians would be better able to inform and protect the public from tick-borne diseases,” the authors say.

The list includes 11 species of ticks – nine native and two invasive – that have been confirmed based on specimens in museums and other collections. They include the Asian longhorned tick and brown dog tick, both of which are invasive in the U.S. Native ticks include the lone star tick, winter tick, American dog tick, rabbit tick, blacklegged tick, and four species – Ixodes brunneus, Ixodes cookei, Ixodes dentatus and Ixodes texanus – that don’t have common names since they are closely associated with wildlife and are rarely removed from humans.

Besides the 11, five other species of ticks have been reported in the Garden State, but there are no verified specimens in collections. Still, these species have been found in states within 300 kilometers (186 miles) of New Jersey and may be confirmed here in the future. Two other species, including the Gulf Coast tick, are expanding their range northward and, the authors predict, may eventually arrive in New Jersey.

As far as we know, no other state in the Northeast has done the ‘due diligence’ of tracking down archived specimens of each tick species collected in the state”.

Senior Author Dina M. Fonseca, a Professor and Director of the Center for Vector Biology in the Department Entomology, Rutgers University–New Brunswick



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