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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #418521



Project Number: 3094-32000-034-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2009
End Date: Sep 30, 2014

Objective 1: Determine if new commercial insecticidal toxicants could be useful as acaricides in the eradication program. Sub-obj. 1.A. Evaluate use of currently available insecticide mixtures that might result in additive or synergistic effects to enhance efficacy in the control of ticks. Sub-obj. 1.B. Evaluate use of long-lasting acaricides for use in regulatory activities of the CFTEP. Sub-obj. 1.C. Evaluate novel methods of acaricide delivery for cattle fever tick control. Objective 2: Develop operationally useful plans for resistance management in fever tick infestations. Sub-obj. 2.A. Evaluate use of Co-Ral for its ability to eradicate organophosphate (OP)-resistant fever ticks in pasture conditions. Sub-obj. 2.B. Characterize emerging resistance to ivermectin and new acaricides in fever tick populations in Mexico. Sub-obj. 2.C. Establish and implement a diagnostic facility to monitor acaricide resistance, define mechanisms of resistance, and provide management strategies for controlling outbreak strains. Objective 3: Develop wildlife-based strategies to eradicate ticks on premises with infested deer, including research on ecology application of anti-tick vaccines and chemicals, novel delivery methods and field trials. Sub-obj. 3.A. Classify habitat preferences of white-tailed deer and cattle fever ticks in Zapata County, TX, using satellite imagery. Sub-obj. 3.B. Analyze genetic associations among populations of southern cattle ticks and cattle ticks, on cattle, white-tailed deer, and other captive and wild ungulates. Sub-obj. 3.C. Evaluate efficacy of ARS-Patented '4-Poster' Deer Treatment Bait Station and medicated baits to eradicate cattle fever ticks feeding on white-tailed deer in infested premises in South Texas. Sub-obj. 3.D. Evaluate efficacy of new acaricides formulated for the '4-Poster' and other topical treatment devices to control blacklegged and lone star ticks feeding on white-tailed deer and cattle fever ticks feeding on deer in infested premises in South Texas. Sub-obj. 3.E. Further develop and field test ARS-Patented Automatic Collaring Device for potential use in applying acaricidal neckbands to control all species of ticks that feed on white-tailed deer. Sub-obj. 3.F. Develop and field test slow-release long-lasting acaricidal neckband formulations for application to deer by the automatic collaring device. Sub-obj. 3.G. Describe relative importance of white-tailed deer as alternative hosts for the dispersal and maintenance of cattle fever tick populations. Objective 4: Perform research to support development of spatial models of adverse economic impact of re-infestation of fever ticks on Texas, other potentially infested states, and the U.S. cattle industry as a whole. Objective 5: Determine risk of Babesia transmission by ticks. Sub-obj. 5.A. Test for presence of Babesia in fever tick outbreak strains in south Texas. Sub-obj. 5.B. Using molecular techniques, evaluate both wild and captive white-tailed deer and exotic ungulates for the presence of Babesia. Sub-obj. 5.C. Determine if Rhipicephalus microplus can acquire Babesia from white-tailed deer and subsequently transmit Babesia to naive cattle.

This project addresses the biology and control of ticks of veterinary and human importance with an emphasis on developing technologies to help maintain eradication of cattle fever ticks and the agents that they transmit causing potentially fatal bovine babesiosis and to reduce the risk of humans contracting tick-borne diseases including Lyme disease and human ehrlichiosis. It is a multi-disciplinary project requiring scientists from a wide range of academic specialties, backgrounds, and experiences. The research approach is composed of 5 major objectives including: 1) to evaluate commercially available pesticides for use in the fever tick eradication program, 2) to monitor pesticide resistance in cattle fever ticks and develop plans to mitigate outbreaks of resistant ticks, 3) to develop and evaluate technologies and strategies to eradicate cattle fever ticks or control other tick species feeding on white-tailed deer and other wild ungulates, use satellite image analysis to classify deer habitat preferences, analyze genetic associations among fever ticks and hosts, and to elucidate the relative importance of white-tailed deer as alternative hosts for cattle fever ticks, 4) to continue data input, organization, and development of the GIS database of current and historical fever tick infestation data used to develop descriptive and predictive epidemiological models of fever tick outbreaks, and 5) to determine the risk of Babesia transmission by ticks, including the potential for wild and feral ungulates to serve as reservoir hosts.