Cattle Fever Ticks

Cattle Fever Ticks – Commonly Asked Questions

Boophilus-microplus-Tick-App-Fig-BM_MF_labeled-ruled

Southern cattle tick, Boophilus microplus. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

Cattle Fever Ticks are a growing concern for livestock producers, property owners, and wildlife managers.  Their presence on property, livestock and wildlife in the United States will subject owners to quarantine and treatments to eliminate ticks in the prevention of Texas Cattle Fever, or bovine babesiosis.  The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and the USDA, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services , are charged with the responsibility to oversee regulations preventing and eliminating cattle fever ticks under statues of the State of Texas.

The following are common questions asked by livestock producers, property owners, and wildlife managers regarding cattle fever ticks:

Why should I be concerned about cattle fever ticks?

Cattle fever ticks are vectors of pathogens that cause Texas Cattle Fever, or bovine babesiosis, a highly fatal disease in naïve animals.  There are no vaccines or drugs available to prevent or control the disease.  Disease prevention is achieved by preventing contact with cattle fever ticks.

Cattle Tick adult male (left) and adult female (right) on a white background.

The Cattle Tick, Boophilus annulatis.

How do cattle fever ticks move from one place to another?

Cattle fever ticks are dispersed by infested animals.  Infested animals on a pasture will distribute ticks as they graze.  Transporting infested animals will distribute ticks to new properties.

Why are quarantines necessary for cattle fever ticks?

Quarantines stop animal movement so that the size and scale of an infestation can be identified,  to prevent the spread of ticks to more locations, and to put in place measures for treatment to eliminate ticks.

If I find ticks on my animals, how do I know if these are cattle fever ticks?

If you suspect that your animals are infested with cattle fever ticks, the TAHC recommends that you contact your local TAHC region office so that specimens can be submitted to the state-federal laboratory for identification.  Inspections and identifications by the TAHC are free of charge.

How do I get in touch with the TAHC (Texas Animal Health Commission)?

A map with phone numbers and addresses for your TAHC regional office is available at

http://www.tahc.texas.gov/agency/TAHC_RegionalOfficeMap.pdf .  You may also call the TAHC 24 hour service number at 1-800 550 8242.

If my property is quarantined for cattle fever ticks will this affect my neighbors?

Yes.  Adjacent properties will be quarantined to ensure that the infestation remains contained, by restricting animal movement and requiring regular inspections.

Engorged female Cattle tick in hand. (Texas Animal Health Commission photo)

If I purchased animals from a cattle fever tick infested area, am I subject to quarantine?

Yes.  This constitutes exposure and you may be quarantined until it can be determined whether cattle fever ticks have infested your property.

How are quarantines lifted?

Quarantines are lifted when the regulatory agency is satisfied that the conditions for quarantine no longer exist.

Can I treat my pastures with pesticides to eliminate ticks?

No.  There are no pesticides approved for treating pastures for cattle fever ticks.

How are cattle treated if quarantine is imposed?

Cattle on infested premises are required to be treated with products that have been evaluated and approved for cattle fever tick elimination on a specific schedule.   One option is to treat all cattle at 14 day intervals for 6-9 months in a dipping vat (or spray dip machine) with Coumaphos.  A second option is treating all cattle with injectable Doramectin at 25-28 day intervals for 6-9 months.  A third option, is pasture vacation, which requires two consecutive dippings and inspections without finding ticks, and moving these animals to non-infested premises.  Vacating pastures is intended to eliminate ticks by removing the hosts.  This option can be complicated when wildlife are involved.  The TAHC or USDA will work with producers to develop a plan of action based upon their assessment of each situation.

I have heard about a tick vaccine.  Can I vaccinate my cattle for fever ticks?

No.  There are no tick vaccines approved for use.  There is a field trial of a tick vaccine underway that is being conducted with special approvals and under strict oversight.  Findings from this trial will help determine whether this method will be used in the future.

Are wildlife involved in cattle fever tick infestations?

Yes, they can be.  While cattle are the preferred host for cattle fever ticks, white-tailed deer and nilgai antelope are two of several wildlife species that can serve as alternate hosts.

How are wildlife treated if quarantine is imposed?

The heads, hides and capes of harvested wildlife must be inspected and treated for cattle fever ticks by TAHC or USDA personnel before movement from the premises.  A movement permit will be issued prior to moving the animal from the premises.  Treatment options for wildlife on rangeland are limited.  Delivery methods for ivermectin treated corn and permethrin self-application devices have been developed for white-tailed deer.   Application of ivermectin is subject to required withdrawal periods before hunting season.

RESOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

TAHC Regional Offices http://www.tahc.texas.gov/agency/TAHC_RegionalOfficeMap.pdf

TAHC fever tick Regulations

https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=4&ti=4&pt=2&ch=41&rl=Y

TAHC Cattle Fever Ticks Frequently Asked Questions http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/news/brochures/TAHCBrochure_FeverTickFAQ.pdf

TAHC Cattle Fever Ticks and Wildlife http://www.tahc.texas.gov/animal_health/cattle/TAHCBrochure_FeverTickWildlifeInspection.pdf

USDA, APHIS https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/content/printable_version/cattle_fever_ticks.pdf

USDA, APHIS https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_diseases/tick/downloads/pest_alert.pdf

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