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Keep Fever Ticks from Spreading:
Preventive Tick Quarantine Set in Part of Starr County
The fever tick quarantine zone in Starr County, Texas, has been expanded temporarily, due to the threat of fever ticks beyond the permanent “quarantine zone” that runs along the Rio Grande. Effective July 3 livestock can not be moved from the expanded preventive quarantine area until the animals are manually inspected for fever ticks, dipped and permitted for movement by personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fever Tick Force or the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC). Fever ticks are capable of carrying and transmitting a protozoa--or tiny animal parasite--that causes the deadly livestock disease, “Texas Fever.”
The temporary preventive quarantined area is bounded on the east by Ebanos Road (Ebony Road) from its junction with U.S. Highway 83, then north on San Julian Road to its junction with Sanchez Ranch Road (San Julian Road). The northern boundary is comprised of Sanchez Ranch Road (San Julian Road), south on Loma Blanca Road, then west on Hinojosa Ranch Road (Falcon Loop) to its junction with U.S. Highway 83. The western edge is Highway 83 south to the Ebony Road junction.
“At this time, we do not know the extent of the infestation in this preventive fever tick quarantined area. However, tick infestation is possible, and therefore, we must take extraordinary precautions to prevent the spread of these very dangerous pests,” said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas’ state veterinarian and executive director of the TAHC, the state’s livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. He explained that the fever tick, if not contained, could become re-established, even through the winter, throughout much of the south, southeast and parts of California. In addition to cattle, horses, white-tailed deer, Nilgai and elk can act as a host of the tick, perpetuating its population.
“It took more than 50 years to eradicate fever ticks from the U.S.,” he said. He noted that a permanent fever tick zone runs through eight South Texas counties along the Rio Grande and is staffed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fever Tick Force. Livestock moved from this permanent quarantine zone also must be inspected, dipped and permitted prior to movement. Tick inspections also are conducted at a number of South Texas livestock markets.
When tick-infested livestock are detected, the ranch and animals are quarantined. Owners can choose to have their cattle inspected and dipped every seven to 14 days for nine months, or the livestock can be dipped repeatedly, until declared tick-free and moved to a new site, leaving the infested pasture “vacated” for nine months, causing the ticks to starve. Regardless of the option selected, wildlife, deer and other hoof stock are provided treated feed, to kill fever ticks on these animals.
The Fever Tick Force also maintains vigilance along the permanent quarantine zone to apprehend, inspect and dip stray livestock from Mexico, where the fever tick still exists. Owners may reclaim their animals by paying a nominal feed bill. Among the stringent health requirements for livestock shipments from Mexico are fever tick inspection and dipping. If an animal in a shipment is found to have fever ticks, the entire shipment is rejected until it can be re-dipped and inspected.
“Keeping the fever tick out of the U.S. is essential,” said Dr. Hillman. “Infected ticks can kill thousands of cattle, and our ability to move animals without restriction could be severely limited. The implementation of this preventive fever tick quarantine is expected to be temporary and will be released as soon as possible.”