Representatives from Texas’ cattle industry recently discussed future research and educational partnerships related to fever ticks at a summit hosted by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

The fever tick is a major concern to the livestock and wildlife industry, said Dr. Tom Hairgrove, livestock systems program coordinator with AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. It can carry and transmit Babesia, a blood parasite that can kill adult cattle. Other hosts for the fever tick are horses, deer, elk and other deer species.

"The purpose of this summit was to bring together all stakeholders (livestock and wildlife) in Texas to begin a concerted effort in battling movement of the fever tick," Hairgrove said. "I think at the end of the day, everyone got a sense of where we are at and the work that needs to be done."

"This is a major concern not just for Texas, but the U.S," said Dr. Ron Gill, AgriLife Extension beef cattle program leader and associate department head for animal science at Texas A&M University. "There needs to be more producer education, research and commercialization of technology that will all aid in preventing spread of the fever tick. If we can control the spread of the ticks which can carry the protozoa we can prevent the occurrence of tick fever that had huge consequences in the 1940s and thousands of cattle deaths in the 1800s."

Gill said if the tick and the disease are not controlled at the South Texas border, "the economic consequences of re-introduction of tick fever into the naive U.S. cattle population would be staggering."

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