The state Department of Agriculture is telling animal owners to be vigilant with tick prevention after finding an invasive species on livestock in Surry County.
The office of the state veterinarian says five cows recently died of acute anemia connected to an infestation of Asian long-horned ticks. Veterinarians say they each had more than 1,000 ticks on them. This is the fourth confirmed case in North Carolina since last year, but the Asian tick has spread to at least ten states in the Southeast.
Michael Neault, the state's director of livestock health programs, says an infestation can be fatal in animals if it goes unchecked.
“When they swarm animals, they get enough bites in there that they ingest enough blood and cause the anemia, the low red blood count,” Neault said. “That leads into the animal starting to get into distress from not having the normal red blood count in the body to deliver oxygen.”
The Asian tick has not been linked to any human infections in the United States. But Neault says pet owners should make sure their dogs and cats are current on their treatments.
Neault said infestations are usually only fatal if they get out of control.
“What people are using on their cattle and livestock, plus what they're using on their cats and dogs, are effective in actually controlling and killing the ticks,” he said. “So if people don't have a tick protocol in place, this is the perfect time for them to try and prevent getting these ticks.”