‘Clone tick' that can reproduce on its own has drained blood from livestock, threatens humans

In what might seem like a plague of Biblical proportions, swarms of an invasive new blood-thirsty tick have killed multiple cows in North Carolina and already have a taste for human blood.

Asian longhorned ticks, otherwise known as “clone ticks,” are particularly worrisome because they have the ability to reproduce without a mate, and unfortunately, that’s not the worst part about them.

A fully fed female can spawn as many as 2,000 offspring on her own, spreading various diseases to humans, such as the Powassan virus. Symptoms can include fever, vomiting and seizures, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services put out a press release saying that the death of five cows was linked to acute anemia caused by tick infestations.

“The deceased young bull brought to our Northwestern Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab had more than 1,000 ticks on it and the owner had lost four other cattle under the same circumstances,” said the organization.

In May, the first case of the tick species biting a human in the U.S. was reported by researchers in New York. Field studies confirmed that this species of tick was present in multiple areas surrounding the victim’s residence.

The Centers for Disease Control said that as of June 24, Asian longhorned ticks have been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

While these “clone ticks” have typically been found in Asia, Australia and New Zealand where they’ve been known to spread lethal pathogens, this specific species mysteriously appeared in the United States in 2017 when NPR reported a woman in New Jersey found thousands of the invasive species on her pet sheep and her clothing.

While the CDC says that bites from these ticks have been known to make people and animals seriously ill in other countries, “no harmful germs that can infect people have been found in the ticks collected in the United States.”

The CDC says that anyone who thinks they have found an Asian longhorned tick should remove the insect as quickly as possible and examine clothing after being outdoors.