Governor Greg Abbott announced Friday the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allocated an additional $3.7 million to fighting the spread of cattle fever ticks in South Texas. The increased funding, which came at the Governor’s request, will be added to the existing budget of $8.5 million for FY 2017, bringing the total funding for the USDA’s cattle fever tick control efforts in Texas to $12.2 million. These funds are in addition to the State of Texas’ efforts at the Animal Health Commission to control the destructive pest.
“The State of Texas is being threatened with a crisis, which if not contained quickly, could devastate the agricultural sector of our state,” said Abbott. “Texas cattle producers are currently experiencing an infestation of fever ticks not experienced since the 1970s, and I am committed to containing this threat before it becomes a statewide epidemic. I thank the USDA for their work with Texas on this matter and am hopeful that together we can reverse these trends, saving Texas cattle.”
Cattle fever ticks, known scientifically as Rhipicephalus (formerly Boophilus) annulatus and R. microplus, are a significant threat to the United States and Texas cattle industry. These ticks are capable of carrying the protozoa, or microscopic parasites, Babesia bovis or B. bigemina, commonly known as cattle fever. The Babesia organism attacks and destroys red blood cells, causing acute anemia, high fever, and enlargement of the spleen and liver, ultimately resulting in death for up to 90 percent of susceptible naive cattle.