Fever ticks make a comeback in Texas


Austin, Texas - Fever ticks are making a resurgence in Texas. In fact officials fear the outbreak of the parasite could kill livestock and wildlife. The fever tick can survive winters as far north as Washington D.C.

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Fever ticks are making a resurgence in Texas.

Officials fear they could spread, killing numerous livestock and wildlife, unless there is funding for preventive measures.

Fever ticks have been detected on livestock and wildlife on 139 Texas pastures during the past 12 months.

In July 2007, the first preventive quarantine of 39,325 acres in Starr County, Texas, was established to enable the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Tick Force and the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) to inspect and treat livestock.

Today, there are more than one million acres under preventive quarantines in Staff, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Maverick, Dimmit and Webb counties, in addition to the half-million acres in the permanent fever-tick quarantine zone that runs alongside the Rio Grande from Del Rio to Brownsville.

"This is no longer a 'border war' against the fever tick," says Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas' state veterinarian and head of the TAHC.

"The fever tick has gained a substantial foothold on Texas soil, and without adequate resources to fight this pest, it will spread."

The fever tick can survive winters as far north as Washington, D.C. Periodic tick incursions since 1943 have occurred in Texas, but only one, in the 1970s, eclipsed the current outbreak for the number of premises infested. It took six years to eradicate.

Earlier this year, the fever-tick program received $5.2 million of the $13 million of federal funds requested, but officials say that falls far short of what's needed.

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