Tick known to carry West Nile found at Charleston port

Argas species of tick (Source: USDA)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A tick widely found in the Middle East, Asia and Africa was found by Border Patrol agent in a shipment of gloves at the Charleston port.{}

According to officials with the Department of Homeland Security, agents were searching the shipment from Pakistan for beetles, but found what was later identified as the Argas species of tick.

The adult tick was about a quarter-inch in size, officials said.

"This species of tick is a bird parasite that occurs widely in Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and across south-central Asia.{} Pigeons are the primary hosts for this tick, but it also feeds on domestic fowl and a limited variety of wild birds," said a National Veterinary Services Laboratory in the U.S. agriculture department.

West Nile virus has been found in the tick, officials said.

"Soft ticks, especially Argas spp., (are) only rarely are imported in commerce, and we even more rarely see them for identification," said the NVSL researcher.

The USDA considers the event at the Charleston port to be the first time this type of tick has been intercepted at a U.S. maritime port.

The shipment is being exported, officials said.


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