"It is a tick just like just like you may find on your dog at home but a little different in its species that likes to feed on cattle," said Dr. Paschal
Cattle fever ticks are found on cows, deer, or nilgai an Indian antelope. The disease destroys red blood cells which can cause high fever, enlargement of the spleen and liver killing 90% of cattle.
" We see these ticks along the neck area, down along the forearms, back behind the hind legs in the folds where the blood supply is closest to the skin," said Paschal.
In 1906 these ticks were found as far north as Washington D.C. The United States Bureau of Animal Industry started an eradication program to remove the ticks and the disease. "State by state they eradicated the fever tick from Washington D.C. down to Florida and across to the southern border of Texas," said Paschal.
That zone along the southern border of Texas is called the Permanent Quarantined Zone which stretches from Del Rio to Brownsville. East of the line is tick free but west of the line you will find the tick and the disease into Mexico.
In November 2016, two cattle ranches in Live Oak County were infected with cattle fever ticks. These ranches were located between Three Rivers and George West. The possible infected cattle from these live oak county farms were sold to ranches here in the crossroads. The Texas Animal Health Commission has conducted investigations in Victoria, De Witt, Jackson, and Gonzales Counties and found the cattle there not to have ticks.
However there are ongoing investigations in Goliad, Calhoun, Wharton and other counties in Texas. There were also traces found out of the state.
" The animal health commission goes to those new locations to locate the cattle and inspect those herds," said Paschal.
So once the ticks are detected. How are infested cattle treated? " Run them through a dripping vat so essentially it is a long swimming pool that has a tick killing chemical in it," said Paschal.
Infested cattle are treated in the Permanent Quarantine Zone or infested areas every 14-28 days. Dr Joe Paschal with Texas A&M Extension Office warns if this tick infestation is not contained then.. " It would cost the Texas livestock industry particular the cattle industry billions of dollars."