In September, a tick species associated with bats that pose possible health risks to people, pets, and livestock was reported for the first time in New Jersey’s Mercer and Sussex counties according to a Rutgers State University study.
“Bat ticks (Carios kelleyi) belong to the family Argasidae, known as 'soft ticks' because their body looks leathery and soft,” said senior report author Dina M. Fonseca Fonseca, a professor at Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, “that is in contrast to the ‘hard ticks’ (family Ixodidae) that New Jerseyans are more familiar with.”
While the current public health risk remains unknown, “finding them on New Jersey bats was an unusual event that prompted bat specialists to contact us. Maybe these ticks are becoming more common,” said Fonseca. In other states, bat ticks have been found infected with microbes that are harmful to people, pets and livestock. There are also confirmed reports of this soft tick feeding on people after losing their bat hosts.
“If you remove bats from your belfry, attic or elsewhere indoors, ticks that fed on those bats may stay behind and come looking for a new source of blood,” said report co-author James L. Occi, a doctoral student at Rutgers. “The next steps are to collect more soft tick specimens and test them for disease-causing microbes.”
If you have any upcoming bat removal jobs, be sure to take extra precautions and check yourself or the surrounding area for these ticks.
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