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Fever tick fight escalates on Texas border

May 15, 2015

In spite of efforts in recent months to reduce risks along the Texas-Mexico border in Deep South Texas, state and federal officials are stepping up their war on unwanted invaders that continue to hitchhike across the Rio Grande into Texas, bringing with them potential death, destruction and the promise of economic hardship.

These invaders have been crossing into Texas for as long as time remembers, most often riding on horseback, stray livestock and wildlife, many of them taking up residence at local farms and ranches near the border and spreading their diseases to unsuspecting victims.

“We’re down here chasing fever ticks,” reports Dawna Michalke, Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) Region 3 inspector, one member of a team of state and federal inspectors trying to control an outbreak of cattle fever ticks in a temporary preventive quarantine area (TPQA) in Cameron County.

“These fever ticks are already out of the permanent quarantine zone and are now in the temporary zone. If they continue to move further into the state they threaten not just the livestock industry in Texas but the larger industry nationwide,” Michalke added.

TAHC is working in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to protect domestic livestock herds from contracting the dreaded Bovine babesiosis disease, a tick-borne, parasitic infection that causes significant mortality in cattle. It is the most important arthropod-borne disease of cattle worldwide.