As if we don’t have enough bad news to share right now, a species of tick associated with bats was first discovered in New Jersey. The health risks are unknown, but these parasites, as common vectors of disease, can threaten humans, pets, and farm animals.
Bats and ticks seem like an unholy combination, as both species are notorious for spreading disease. Unfortunately, a soft bat tick is known as a Carios kelleyi is known to live in dozens of US states, and like New research published in the Journal of Medical Entomology indicates they have finally found their way into New Jersey, particularly in Mercer and Sussex counties.
Last year, scientists from the Endangered Species and Nongame Species Program at the Department of Fish and Wildlife at the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection identified larvae of Carios kelleyi on several large brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), in one possible sign that these soft ticks are spreading. James Occi, a PhD student at Rutgers University’s Rutgers University in New Brunswick’s Rutgers Center for Vector Biology, is the lead author of the new study.
The “soft” ticks include Argasidae Family of ticks and true to their name, They are soft to the touch and have a leathery appearance. Hard ticks, on the other hand, are among them Ixodidae Family, and as anyone who has come into contact with them knows, these blood-sucking parasites are built like tiny tanks. Deer ticks, which transmit Lyme disease to humans, come from the tough variety. All ticks, hard or soft, can transmit pathogens because they feed on blood, Occi explained in an email.
As for Carios kelleyithe disease risk they pose to humans is unknown, but there is cause for concern These insects are known to bite humans. In addition, it was found that these ticks harbor the Rickettsioses of the typhus group (a group of diseases caused by closely related bacteria) and the Relapsing fever Borreliaaccording to Occi.
Bats like to stay in human structures such as attics and barns, where they, along with their pathogens, can come into contact with humans, cats, dogs and farm animals. Ticks are very happy to hold onto their bat hosts, but the danger arises when bats are removed from these human environments.
“Ticks are usually embedded in bats. and there is no risk that they will jump on these bats. In fact, ticks don’t fly, skip, or jump and are a much slower blood feed than mosquitoes, for example, ”said Dina Fonseca, co-author of the new Rutgers-New Brunswick study, in an email. “The primary safety strategy is to be aware of the possibility that ticks will be left behind after the bats have been removed. Deprived of their normal source of blood, These bat ticks can bite people. ”
The fact that bats and ticks mix in this way is particularly problematic. Given that bats harbor an ungodly number of known and unknown diseases. The presence of Carios kelleyi is a potential sign that they are spreading to new areas and highlights the importance of studying these parasites. To this end, the researchers want to collect more tick samples from and around New Jersey and test them for pathogens.
As a fun fact Carios kelleyi is technically not the first soft tick in New Jersey. Scientist as early as 2001 found a soft type of tick called Cario’s jersey in a piece of amber from 90 to 94 million years ago. T.icks have been around for a while enjoy the blood of the dinosaurs during the Cretaceous Period.