The CDC issued a warning this week about the spread of a new tick species in the U.S.
The CDC weekly report, released Thursday, says the Asian longhorned tick, native to Korea and east Asia, has been found in several states in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country.
The first tick found outside of labs was in New Jersey last year. Since then, the tick has been found in eight other states.
“We really don’t know if diseases will be spread by this tick in the United States and, if so, to what extent. But it’s very important that we figure this out quickly,” Lyle Petersen, of the CDC’s division of vector-borne diseases, told The Washington Post.
The CDC report calls for a broad response.
“A broad range of interventions should be evaluated, including insecticide and acaricide sensitivity testing,” the report states. “Many state and federal agencies are developing and disseminating information for stakeholders, including development of hotlines, and some states are identifying ticks submitted by the public.”
U.S. health officials say a record number of tick-borne diseases were reported last year.
The 2017 tally of more than 59,000 cases is a 22 percent increase from the previous year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the numbers Wednesday.
Lyme disease accounted for nearly three-quarters of the illnesses. That’s about 43,000 cases.
Traditionally about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease were reported to the government each year, but experts believed there was underreporting and thought the actual number was more like 300,000.