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Lone star tick generates media buzz

After University Communications broke the story about the presence of a new tick in Wisconsin–the lone star tick– in a news release last week, CALS entomology professor and tick expert Susan Paskewitz has fielded a lot of media calls. News stories about the new tick dominated last week’s CALS in the News list, and Paskewitz also discussed these bloodthirsty arachnids in CALS’ most recent podCALS episode.

Named for the identifying single white splotch on the back of female lone star ticks, Amblyomma americanum has a large range from Texas in the southwest to Maine in the northeast. It hasn’t been considered a Wisconsin resident, but that may change. As Paskewitz explained in the news release, “the signs say they are close to established if not already established in the southern part of the state.”

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Lone star ticks: female (left) and male (right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lone star tick bites can transmit bacteria that cause conditions such as human monocytic ehrlichiosis, a potentially debilitating and dangerous disease characterized by fever, muscle aches and fatigue.

“There is also a more rare reaction to Amblyomma in which a bite makes some people develop an allergy to red meat,” Paskewitz says. “That would probably bother a lot of people in Wisconsin.”

Paskewitz is asking anyone who encounters a lone star tick to send her lab a photo or the actual arachnid. Instructions for identification and submission are available at Paskewitz’ Wisconsin Ticks website.

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