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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Biology and Control of Ticks of Veterinary and Human Importance

Location: Tick and Biting Fly Research

Title: The US experience of eradicating and preventing re-infestation with cattle fever ticks

Authors
item Li, Andrew
item Miller, Robert
item Pound, Joe
item Guerrero, Felix
item Temeyer, Kevin
item Perez De Leon, Adalberto

Submitted to: Workshop Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 2012
Publication Date: June 3, 2012
Citation: Li, A.Y., Miller, R., Pound, J.M., Guerrero, F., Temeyer, K.B., Perez De Leon, A.A. 2012. The US experience of eradicating and preventing re-infestation with cattle fever ticks. Workshop Proceedings. 4th International Bayer Cattle Symposium, Lisbon, Portugal, June 3, 2012 (4-19).

Interpretive Summary: Cattle fever ticks (CFT) are obligate ectoparasites and vectors of the infectious agents that cause bovine babesiosis, or “Cattle Fever”, and anaplasmosis in cattle. The CFT species Rhipicephalus microplus and R. annulatus, and the diseases caused by the infectious agents they transmit inflicted tremendous economic damage to cattle production, and prevented development of the cattle industry in the United States until the very early part of the twentieth century. The US Department of Agriculture launched the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program (CFTEP) in 1906. The operating principles of the CFTEP were strict quarantines and systematic dipping, or pasture vacation. After more than three decades of intense efforts, CFT were declared eradicated from the U.S. in 1943. A permanent quarantine zone on the border between Mexico and the U.S. in south Texas buffers cattle fever tick incursion from Mexico, where CFT and bovine babesiosis are endemic. The CFTEP keeps the U.S. free of CFT and bovine babesiosis; however, the CFTEP is facing serious challenges associated with global changes. Chemical acaricides are widely used to control cattle fever ticks in Mexico. Tick populations have developed resistance to almost every single chemical acaricide class that is commercially available in Mexico. Acaricide resistance poses an immediate threat to the continued success of the CFTEP. Also, an explosion in the population of white-tailed deer and the increased popularity of exotic wild ungulates in Texas represent complicating factors. Deer are an alternate host that moves easily among premises thereby dispersing CFT in both the permanent quarantine and free zones. Researchers with the USDA-ARS are addressing the vulnerabilities associated with global change forces challenging the CFTEP. These investigations are conducted in collaboration with state, national, and international partners in academia, industry, and governmental agencies. The science-based knowledge generated at USDA ARS research facilities through these collaborations are being integrated and translated into innovative technologies for sustainable cattle fever tick eradication.

Technical Abstract: The southern cattle tick, Rhipicephalus microplus, and the cattle tick, R. annulatus, are obligate ectoparasites and the vectors of pathogens causing bovine babesiosis, or “Cattle Fever”, and anaplasmosis in cattle. These cattle fever tick (CFT) species were declared eradicated from the U.S. in 1943 after intense collaborative efforts between the USDA’s Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program (CFTEP), state animal health agencies, and producers. A permanent quarantine zone has since been maintained on the border between Mexico and the US in south Texas to prevent CFT incursion from Mexico and their re-establishment in the U.S. The CFTEP has successfully protected the U.S. from re-establishment of the injurious and invasive CFT for the past 70 years. However, the CFTEP is facing serious challenges related to global change. Tick populations have developed resistance to almost every single chemical acaricide class that is commercially available in Mexico. Acaricide resistance poses an immediate threat to the continued success of the CFTEP. An explosion in the population of white-tailed deer and the increased popularity of exotic wild ungulates in Texas represent a complicating factor for the CFTEP. Recent evidence based on field research indicates CFT infestations in white-tailed deer are causing outbreaks outside of the permanent quarantine zone. Researchers with the USDA-ARS are addressing the vulnerabilities associated with global change forces challenging the CFTEP. These investigations are conducted in collaboration with state, national, and international partners in academia, industry, and governmental agencies. Two ongoing appropriated projects at the Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory involve research on the biology of CFT to enhance eradication strategies, and mining of the R. microplus genome to develop novel technologies and vaccines. The science-based knowledge generated at USDA-ARS research facilities through these collaborations are being integrated and translated into innovative tools for sustainable cattle fever tick eradication.

Last Modified: 10/31/2014