USDA Secretary Ed Schafer says Texas animal health officials will have an extra $4.9 million to help fight cattle fever ticks from spreading into the U.S.

"This funding couldn’t have come at a better time," says Jon Means, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association president. “Now, maybe more than ever, federal funding for the control of cattle fever ticks is desperately needed in order to address the current infestation in the temporary quarantine zones. Without these funds, the pests could spread the fever throughout the nation’s cow herd, resulting in losses of $1 billion/year to the industry and rising food costs to consumers.”

Cattle fever ticks can transmit a parasite that causes “tick fever,” a disease that can kill up to 90% of infected cattle. Since 1943, the ticks have been eradicated from the U.S. except for a permanent quarantine zone along the Texas-Mexico border. During the past two years, however, 128 new fever tick infestations have been found in the permanent quarantine zone, several temporary preventive areas and in tick-free areas in Texas.

Texas State Veterinarian Bob Hillman says the funds will be used to hire additional personnel and get the extra equipment and supplies needed to treat cattle found to be infested with the ticks. For more on the effort to fight cattle fever ticks, go to beefmagazine.com/health/long_thin_line/index.html.