Ah, the summertime! The weather is getting warmer, which means we can finally get outside and start exploring again. Personally, relaxing by our local pond for a day of fishing, swimming, hiking, and sunning is our favorite summer activity. It’s free and our kiddos love it, too. Win-win!

But, fun times in the sun aside, one of the things that tends to put a damper on our time in the wilderness is one, seriously icky reality: TICKS. If you know anything about these disgusting creepy-crawlies than you are well aware that they’re more than just vomit-inducing– they are also extremely dangerous.

That’s why, every year before summer approaches, we like to give you a little refresher on the ways that you can protect yourself against ticks and the potentially deadly diseases that they carry, but when we heard that a new type of tick might be hanging out in your neck of the woods, we knew that we had to give you the full lowdown.

According to a report published in LymeDisease.org, it seems that a new variety of tick was introduced to the United States last year; it’s called the Longhorned or bush tick and is said to have originated in East Asian countries like Russia, South Korea, Japan, and China. These ticks look a little different than what we’re accustomed to seeing– they are relatively small in size and resemble more of a tiny spider than a tick.

What makes the appearance of the bush tick in the United States so alarming is the fact that they might be introducing diseases that aren’t normally on our radar, like STFS, an illness that is known for inducing a hemorrhagic fever. This dangerous condition could lead to low white blood cell count, fever, elevated serum enzyme levels, and even multi-organ failure.

Now, it’s important to note that scientists, environmental officials, and doctors are just in the early stages of understanding how this newly-introduced tick might affect the population. You see, it was only last year that the bush ticks were first identified when a farmer found hundreds of these arachnids all over their sheep.

What made the situation especially strange was that the sheep had never traveled internationally or even locally, which leads scientists to believe that this wasn’t an isolated incident. Officials have informed New Jersey residents, particularly those residing and working in Hunderton County, to be especially careful as these tiny ticks might attach themselves to rabbits, deer, and even domestic animals, like dogs.

So, how do you ensure that you and your family stay safe from these mysterious ticks? Do your best to stay out of tall grass, wear high socks and closed-toed shoes in wooded areas, and always check your full body, including your scalp, for the bugs before entering your home or car.

Also, if you feel that you may have found evidence of the bush tick, be sure to get in contact with the New Jersey Division of  Fish and Wildlife Management at (908) 637-4173, extension 120. If you live outside of New Jersey, call your local wildlife management program. Let’s keep everyone safe from these creepy-crawlies this summer!

Are you surprised that there’s a new tick in town? Have you ever found a tick on you or your animals before? If so, were you sickened by it?

Source: Good Housekeeping