Gulf Coast Tick
Gulf Coast ticks (Amblyomma maculatum) normally inhabit grassland prairies and the edges of wooded areas where the shade of canopy cover provides optimal micro-climate off-host survival. The range of the Gulf Coast tick is historically described as a region approximately 100-150 miles inland along the Gulf of Mexico and southern Atlantic coast, extending from Texas to South Carolina.
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The Gulf Coast tick is an arthropod of increasing medical and veterinary importance. These ticks transmit the pathogen Rickettsia parkeri to humans, a type of spotted fever. Recent studies report infection rates of greater than 20% in Gulf Coast ticks. Gulf Coast ticks are also responsible for transmitting American canine hepatozoonosis in wild and domestic canines in the US. This species has also been shown to experimentally transmit Ehrlichia ruminantium (also known as heartwater), causal agent of heartwater, a disease fatal to >80% of wild and domestic ruminants.
A three-host tick, the Gulf Coast tick is an arthropod of veterinary and medical importance throughout its range. Adult ticks attach and concentrate feeding primarily in the ears of their hosts. This clustered feeding habit concentrates tissue damage and can cause "gotch ear" in young calves, a condition that negatively effects their sale value at market. Seasonal activity of Gulf Coast ticks varies among life stage and population locality.
The range of the Gulf Coast tick is historically described as a region approximately 100-150 miles inland along the Gulf of Mexico and southern Atlantic coast, extending from Texas to South Carolina. Resident populations of Gulf Coast ticks are established in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas, where their distributions appear to be expanding. Incidental introductions of these ticks beyond endemic regions occurs with increasing frequency; likely due to the feeding of immature ticks on migrating birds, and the transportation of tick infested livestock and wildlife into new areas.