Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are working to help thwart the spread of cattle fever.
The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program (CFTEP) recently announced that cattle fever tick infestations have spread outside the permanent quarantine zone, which has prompted concern from AgriLife experts who last dealt with a large outbreak in 2017.
“The discovery of more fever tick infestations, particularly outside of the permanent quarantine zone, is significant,” said Dr. Pete Teel, an AgriLife Research entomologist in College Station, Texas. “At risk is the economy of the Texas cattle industry and the more than 400,000 cattle producers throughout the southern region of the U.S.”
Cattle fever ticks — Rhipicephalus annulatus and Rhipicephalus microplus — can carry the microscopic parasites that cause bovine babesiosis or cattle fever, AgriLife Research explained. These are the only two tick species that can transmit the disease. Once an animal is infected, these parasites attack red blood cells, resulting in acute anemia, enlargement of the liver and spleen and a high fever.
TAHC and CFTEP are currently working to determine the extent of the spread of the ticks and to trace the source.
Tracking tick locations
“When producers observe ticks on their livestock, it is imperative they contact their local TAHC livestock inspector or region office, USDA inspector, private veterinarian or local AgriLife Extension office to arrange for collection and submission of tick samples to the TAHC laboratory in Austin, [Texas],”