Central New Yorkers are used to being wary of deer ticks and the potential for Lyme disease, but now a new tick has been found here, and it comes with whole new risks.

The deer tick ranges widely over Central New York, but a new kind of tick - the Lone Star Tick - is slowly making its way from the southwest up towards CNY, with one found in Onondaga County last year. 

Credit: CDC.gov

Lone Star Ticks differ from deer ticks is several ways - and none of them are good news. They don't carry Lyme, but they can carry Monocytic Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and 'Stari' borreliosis. Unlike deer ticks, who hang out on grass and wait for animals or humans to happen by, Lone Star Ticks aggressively hunt for people and animals to bite, ranging farther than deer ticks to do so. They also have a more pronounced bite.

The weirdest thing about these invaders? Their bite can cause an allergy to red meat. The Lone Star tick bite can transmit a sugar molecule called alpha-gal, which can cause humans to suffer an allergic reaction 3-4 hours after eating meat. 

The bottom line - no matter which kind of tick we're talking about - a good offense is your best defense.

The best protection against ticks and the diseases they carry is prevention:

    • Using tick repellent; remember to spray clothing as well
    • Wearing long sleeves and pants
    • Avoiding wooded and overgrown areas
    • Check thoroughly for ticks when returning from outdoors

It's also important to protect your pets with an effective flea and tick repellent.

Experts have already said this year is expected to be a bad year for ticks.