In a study that appeared in the journal PLOS ONE in December 2014, University of Florida researchers reported the discovery that Amblyomma americanum ticks (lone stars) harbor a virus never before found in humans or animals in the US. 10% of ticks collected by the researchers were shown to have evidence of the Tacaribe virus (TCRV), the genome of which was completely sequenced. To date, the virus has not been shown to cause human infections; however, it is part of the arenavirus family─others in that family have been associated with human illness.
TCRV was first isolated from bats and mosquitoes in Trinidad from 1956 to 1958 and it has not been associated with a rodent host. Since that one isolation time, the virus has not been isolated from any vertebrate or invertebrate hosts. The researchers reported re-isolation of the virus from a pool of 100 lone star ticks in Florida.
Lone star ticks are common to the southeastern US but have expanded their range, and can now be found as far North as Maine.