Theileria orientalis ikeda in host-seeking Haemaphysalis longicornis in Virginia, U.S.A.
The Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, has recently become established in the United States. In East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, the native and previously introduced ranges, this tick is a vector of an important pathogen of cattle, Theileria orientalis. In 2017, the pathogenic Ikeda genotype of T. orientalis was associated with cattle mortalities in Virginia and in 2018 the exotic H. longicornis was detected at this same site. To investigate the possible role of this exotic tick in the epidemiology of theileriosis in Virginia, we tested host-seeking H. longicornis for piroplasm infections. We document the detection of exotic Theileria orientalis Ikeda genotype in 12.7% (15/118) environmentally collected H. longicornis using both the 18S rRNA and major piroplasm surface protein (MPSP) gene targets. This is the first detection of a pathogen in H. longicornis in its introduced range in the United States and offers new insight into the animal health risks associated with the introduction of this exotic tick species to North America.