Bull dies in Surry County after infested by more than 1,000 ticks; state veterinarian issues warning

Nymph and adult female Asian longhorned ticks (CDC)

SURRY COUNTY, N.C. — Five cows died in Surry County due to what the state veterinarian is calling tick infestations.

State Veterinarian Doug Meckes said people who have pets or livestock should be vigilant and take precautions against ticks during the warm weather.

The cows died of acute anemia caused by the infestations.

More than 1,000 ticks were on the body of the dead young bull brought to the Northwestern Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab. Four other cows died in the same way.

“This is the fourth confirmed case in North Carolina since 2018, and the first case reported this year,” Meckes said. “Previous cases were found in Polk, Rutherford and Davidson counties,” Meckes said.

The Asian longhorned tick, which was responsible for these deaths, is an exotic species from East Asia that was first found in the United States back in 2010 in West Virginia.

Since then, they have spread to at least 67 counties, 24 of which are in Virginia.

These ticks are known for building intense infestations on animals.

The Asian longhorned tick has not been connection to human infection, but the state veterinarian recommends people protect themselves while outside by wearing long clothing, wearing clothing treated with permethrin, and using DEET, picaridin and other EPA-approved repellents.

Meckes also advises people to shower immediately upon returning home.

For information on protecting pets and livestock, contact your veterinarian.

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