Missouri Meets a New Kind of Longhorn

Oct 4, 2022

There’s a new longhorn in town, and it’s got cattle producers’ attention.

The Asian Longhorned Tick (ALT) has recently been discovered in northern Missouri. This problematic pest has spread across the U.S. since arriving in 2017—reaching from New England to the Mid-South, and now Missouri.

With the female ticks’ ability to reproduce in large numbers with or without males, this species is poised for a population eggs-plosion.

The deets:

Asian Longhorn Ticks spread the protozoan parasite known as Theileria through their bite, which can kill cattle and unborn calves through infection and destruction of red blood cells.

Symptoms to look out for include depression, weakness, staying separate from the herd, weight loss, high fever, pale or jaundiced appearance, labored breathing, and possibly death. These symptoms are often mistaken for or confused with anaplasmosis.

Animals are at a higher risk during late pregnancy or periods of stress.

Theileria does not contaminate the meat of infected cows. There are no known risks to humans from Theileria.

It has caused $20M annual loss in the beef and dairy industry in Australia, where the disease has existed for years.

Where this goes: Researchers are focused on determining host preference and environmental tolerance of the ticks, while also continuing to conduct educational outreach to cattle producers, veterinarians, and extension personnel.