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Byron Shire
January 20, 2022

Be alert for tick fever

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Cattle ticks. Photo supplied.

Following the confirmation of tick fever in cattle on two properties in the Tweed area, North Coast Local Land Services and NSW Department of Primary Industries are reminding producers to be alert to the risk and practice good farm biosecurity.

Dr Phil Kemsley, District Veterinarian with North Coast Local Land Services, said producers should contact a vet immediately if cattle have high fevers and behaviour changes.

He said if treatment is delayed, tick fever can spread quickly in a herd and kill large numbers of cattle.

‘We have seen cases of tick fever recently in the Tweed area during investigations on two neighbouring properties with cattle tick infestations and cattle deaths,’ said Dr Kemsley.

‘Tick fever is spread only by cattle ticks. It appears animals with cattle tick strayed between the two properties, spreading cattle tick and with it tick fever.

‘Last year saw a record number of new cattle tick infestations in NSW, and in most cases straying was the source of the cattle tick.’

Boundary fences critical

North Coast Local Land Services said stock-proof boundary fences are critical to keeping cattle tick out, and producers should examine any strays before sending them home.

Cattle tick infestation. Photo supplied.

DPI senior veterinary officer, Paul Freeman, described tick fever in cattle as a devastating condition that can cause fever, jaundice, anaemia, miscarriage, red urine and a range of nervous signs, including change in temperament, lethargy, muscle tremors and difficulty walking.

‘Current seasonal conditions are favourable for ticks who thrive on heat, and high humidity and producers should check cattle regularly especially as cattle are being yarded now in preparation for autumn sales,’ said Dr Freeman.

Tick fever and cattle tick are notifiable under NSW biosecurity legislation, as the two conditions with the most significant economic impact on cattle production in northern Australia.

This is due to the potential of large losses of animals, production losses, restrictions on trade, and treatment cost.

The DPI is urging livestock producers to be on the lookout for ticks, and maintain good biosecurity practices to prevent introducing diseases, pests and weeds onto their farms.

For information about cattle tick and tick fever go to the DPI cattle tick webpage.

To report signs of tick fever and cattle tick after hours, contact the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

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