Introduction of ticks into the United States that can carry disease-causing pathogens to humans, companion animals, and wildlife has accelerated in recent years, mostly due to globalization, frequency of travel, and a rise in legal and illegal animal trades. We hereby report for the first time introduction of a live fully engorged Amblyomma coelebs feeding on a human into the United States from Central America. Amblyomma coelebs is geographically distributed in the Neotropical region and reaches the southern states of Mexico. This species is capable of transmitting a number of pathogens of public health and veterinary importance including spotted fever group rickettsiae, raising concern that A. coelebs, if it became established in the United States, might also be able to carry these pathogens. Considering the risks of exotic ticks as vectors of numerous pathogens and their potential to establish new populations under conducive climatic and habitat conditions, rigorous inspection practices of imported livestock and pet animals at ports of entry are vital. It is also important for travelers and practitioners to develop a heightened awareness of the public health risks associated with the unintended importation of exotic ticks and the potential such parasites have for breaching United States biosecurity defenses.
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Vol. 105 • No. 4