Longhorned ticks have been spotted in New York City for the first time ever, the Health Department announced Wednesday.
The invasive species originates in east Asia, where it is reported to have transmitted disease to humans. It is most commonly found on livestock and wild animals, and it has not yet been shown to transmit disease to humans in the United States, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.
The species has previously been reported in Westchester county and New Jersey, but its discovery in Staten Island marks the first time it has been confirmed in New York City.
The city announced last month that it would increase spending by $600,000 a year to enhance tick surveillance on Staten Island and reduce the risk of diseases spread by ticks. In addition to the 28 sites in Staten Island, the Health Department also monitors two sites in the Bronx and one in Brooklyn for tick densities and disease testing.
“This new discovery underscores the importance of our recent efforts to control the tick population and educate Staten Islanders about protecting themselves from Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses,” Staten Island Borough President James Oddo said in a news release.
The Health Department recommends wearing insect repellent, in addition to treating clothing with permethrin and avoiding heavily-wooded areas to reduce the risk of attracting ticks. People should check themselves for ticks and shower immediately after spending time in wooded areas.