The tick species that has been linked to an allergy to red meat in humans has been discovered in Connecticut, state environmental officials said.
It is the first known established reproducing population of the lone star tick in Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
The presence of the lone star ticks was first detected in June after a South Norwalk resident reported a deer acting strangely on Manresa Island, the former Norwalk Harbor Station.
An Environmental Conservation officer from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection arrived to investigate and found the deer had died after suffering a severe infestation of ticks. The ticks completely covered the deer's eyes, ears, head and neck, according to a release from DEEP.
Further examination by Connecticut State Entomologist Dr. Kirby Stafford revealed that they were lone star ticks on the deer.
"The number of ticks on and around the animal was incredible," Dr. Stafford said in a news release. "A population of this size has been established, unreported for many years."
A group from the Agricultural Experiment Station returned to Manresa Island to conduct sampling and found multiple deer and raccoon skeletons and many dead birds, according to a state official.
An abundant lone star tick population appears to be established on Manresa Island, but does not appear to have spread to the mainland, Dr. Stafford said. The island is not open to the public and the ticks do not pose a direct threat to residents, he said.
It is not the first time experts at the Agricultural Experiment Station have seen the lone star tick. Of the thousands of ticks tested in Connecticut each year, about 70-90 are lone star ticks, according to the release.
The ticks have already established a population on Long Island, and experts believe Connecticut residents could pick them up while vacationing there or points further south.
If bitten by lone star tick, people can develop an allergy to red meat. It is also associated with other human and animal diseases such as ehrlichiosis and spotted fever rickettsiosis. The species doesn't transmit Lyme disease.
The lone star ticks are reddish-brown and females have a distinctive spot on their backs.