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Philly CBP Intercepts Port’s First Anatolian Brown Tick

Release Date: 
January 16, 2014

**Editor's Note: Please contact Steve Sapp at or (215) 594-4117 for pictures of the Anatolian brown tick and animal hides.

Philadelphia  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed Thursday that U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists recorded the area’s first interception of Rhipicephalus bursa (Ixodidae), or Anatolian brown ticks, December 23, 2013.

CBP discovered the ticks at Philadelphia International Airport on untanned ruminant hides that a passenger brought from Macedonia and Greece.

The USDA further reported that this is only the nation’s fourth documented interception of Anatolian brown ticks. This species was previously intercepted at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1966 on a live horse imported from Italy; on trophy hides of Spanish ibex that arrived at Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport in 1995; and trophy hides of four big game species from Spain that arrived at JFK International Airport in July 2010.

According to the USDA, this tick occurs commonly in most countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and in the Middle East. All active life stages (adult and immature) feed on the same hosts, which most commonly are larger hoofed mammals. This tick is a known vector of infectious diseases of cattle, sheep, and horses. It also may cause tick paralysis in sheep, and it may occasionally bite humans.

Macedonia is a country that is affected with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

“Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists take their job of detecting dangerous insect pests very seriously, and any introduction of potential animal disease to the U.S. livestock industry is of grave concern to us,” said Tarance Drafts, Acting CBP Port Director for the Port of Philadelphia. “This is an excellent example of our agriculture specialists performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to U.S. agriculture.”

The passenger, who arrived from Rome December 23, was referred to a secondary agriculture inspection after he reported possessing goat skins. During close examination, CBP agriculture specialists discovered that the hides were heavily infested with both live and dead ticks.

CBP submitted seven live ticks to the USDA tick specialist for identification.

On December 31, the USDA tick specialist determined the ticks to be Rhipicephalus bursa (Ixodidae), commonly known as Anatolian brown ticks.

CBP agriculture specialists destroyed the ruminant hides.

CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA’s, APHIS, PPQ to protect our nation’s agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign plants, plant pests, and animal diseases.

For more on the USDA, APHIS, PPQ program, please visit the USDA APHIS web site.

CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day, they inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States and seize 4,380 prohibited animal products and plant materials, and intercepts 440 agriculture insect pests and diseases.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021