U.S.-Mexico Border Ranches Stricken by Fever Ticks

Ranchers along the U.S.-Mexico border say the disease carried by fever ticks has devastated their operations. ( Texas A&M AgriLife )

According to data from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), 2,655 premises, totaling 950,500 acres, are under quarantine in Texas due to fever ticks, and ranchers along the U.S.-Mexico border say the disease they carry has devastated their operations.

Fever ticks can carry a parasite that causes 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.

TAHC says portions of eight South Texas counties have established fever tick quarantines. The counties include, Cameron, Live Oak, Kinney, Maverick, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata.

Texas rancher Richard Guerra’s 9,000 acre ranch a mile north of the border has been quarantined 22 times in the past 15 years. Guerra told the Epoch Times his ranch has been idle for the past four years because it has become cost-prohibitive for him to run cattle due to fever ticks. At full capacity, he could run 1,000 cattle.

Guerra’s ranch is near Rio Grande City, and with no fencing in the area, cattle and deer crossing the border from Mexico can bring ticks that infect U.S. herds.

“Right now, one of our biggest problems, even though we do have some human trafficking, is the problem with fever tick. Fever tick comes from Mexico. Mexico does nothing to control it,” Guerra told the Epoch Times.

There is no cure or vaccine for the fever tick, and Guerra’s biggest hope now is for a border wall to be built, cutting access for the wildlife bringing the tick over the border.

“Texas is in the midst of an outbreak, which have been happening periodically since 1960,” says Callie Ward, communications director for the TAHC. “Many cattle, equine, cervids, and nilgai antelope that cross from Mexico into Texas carry fever ticks. USDA employs mounted tick patrols (tick riders) whose job is to ride horses along the border looking for stray animals that may wander from Mexico. They apprehend and treat the animals.”

Fore more on cattle fever ticks in Texas and along the Mexican border read the following articles:



Before you brush this off as a “cattle disease,” with no known cure, these two sources state that B. bovis has occasionally infected humans:

Cattle fever ticks supposedly do NOT attach to humans:

Potential hosts of cattle fever ticks include, but are not limited to: cattle, horses, white- tailed deer, and exotic hoofstock, such as nilgai antelope and red deer.  According to this article, there are no pesticides approved for treating pastures for cattle fever ticks, and there are no tick vaccines approved for use.  There is a field trial of a tick vaccine underway.  There are two species of Cattle fever ticks: Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus and the southern cattle tick Rhipicephalus microplus. The pdf also shows a picture of the tick and gives tick control options for cattle. Use the Tick App, a free smartphone application available at, and the Texas Animal Health Commission’s website at for information on tick treatment options, tick quarantine and associated regulations, as well as the latest updates on current quarantines.

Other Babesia species have been shown to cause disease besides B. microti, B. duncani, MO-1, B. divergens:

More than 100 species of babesia subsequently have been identified in wild and domestic animals.[]

The first human case of babesiosis was in a cattle farmer presenting with fever, anemia and hemoglobinuria. He was asplenic and died of renal insufficiency during the second week of illness. Initially reported as Babesia bovis, the link states it was most likely was Babesia divergens, another pathogen of cattle.

If B. divergens can infect cattle & humans, why not B. bovis?

Human babesiosis is now reported from around the world.

I only write this to show that even these other species at one time were thought to only utilize animal hosts, but with time, were shown to be able to also infect humans.

For more on the organism & treatments:  Important note:

As early as 1996, it was known that when a patient has Lyme and Babesia, Lyme is found three-times more frequently in the blood, causing more symptoms of longer duration & of greater severity:  Great example of a previously healthy 39-year-old male presenting to the emergency department (ED) with generalized severe headaches for eight days and fever for four days. Abdominal examination was normal except for a swollen spleen.

These headaches are surreal, BTW.

Again in 2006, some of the same authors of the concurrent LD and Babesia study, state:

“Physicians should consider use of tests designed to diagnose babesiosis and HGE in patients with Lyme disease who experience a prolonged flulike illness that fails to respond to appropriate antiborrelial therapy.”

So, even then they recognized the polymicrobial aspect of Lyme, yet nothing’s been done about it.

Research gets done but nothing changes.  It’s still 21 days of doxy….. period.  Great article by Dr. Cameron on patients who nearly slipped through the cracks.