Gulf Coast Ticks Invade Virginia - NBC4 Washington

Gulf Coast Ticks Invade Virginia



    Health officials in Fairfax County are trying to get rid of a type of tick usually found on the Gulf Coast that has made its way to our area. (Published Monday, May 9, 2011)

    A new infestation is causing concern at the Fairfax County, Va., Health Department.

    Ticks normally found in Gulf Coast states have been discovered in a landfill off Interstate 66 in the Fair Oaks area. Because the ticks can carry disease, the health department is pressing hard to contain them.

    A handful of the ticks show up in the area each year, probably dropped from migratory birds. Last July, the health department was surprised to find 69 of the Gulf Coast ticks when they treated a fawn from the landfill at an animal shelter.

    Officials dragged sailcloth and adhesive sheets over the landfill, which was closed in 1982 and is now covered with trees and grass, to collect more ticks, and they found a lot from the Gulf Coast, 42 percent of which carried the bacterium ricsettia parkeri, which can cause a type of Rocky Mountain spotted fever disease. The Gulf Coast ticks do not carry Lyme disease.

    Tick traps dot the landfill, now, as health department staffers collect them every week trying to learn more about the ticks and their population. The landfill is fenced off and gates are closed to discourage deer.

    Workers at the waste transfer station, which also sits on the property, have had special training to keep them tick free at the end of the day.

    The health department will also soon dispatch a Johns Hopkins students to study other areas of the county to make sure the Gulf Coast tick hasn’t spread.