NEW JERSEY — A tick species associated with bats was reported for the first time in New Jersey, according to a Rutgers-led study in the “Journal of Medical Entomology.”
The species, Carios kelleyi, is a “soft” tick that could pose health risks to people, pets and livestock, according to the study.
Deer tickets, which carry Lyme disease, are an example of “hard” ticks.”
This soft tick species, which is a parasite of bats known to be in 29 of the 48 contiguous states in the U.S., was confirmed in New Jersey as larvae collected from big brown bats in Mercer and Sussex counties, according to the study.
“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 senior author Dina M. Fonseca.
In other states, there have been reports of the ticks feeding on humans. The bats that host them regularly congregate in structures such as attics and barns.
“We need to be aware that 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. There are records of C. kelleyi biting humans,” said a doctoral student in the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology.