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Tick infestation no cause for panic

Cattle tick.
Cattle tick. NSW DPI

TICK fever cattle deaths in the Clarence Valley may be causing alarm, but front-line officials are hosing down hysteria.

"Cattle tick infestations have been occurring every few years in the Grafton district, usually affecting about five to seven neighbouring properties on each occasion," Department of Primary Industries spokesperson Phil Bevan said.

Penalty notices have not been issued as a result of the Tynedale cattle tick infestation identified at Grafton Saleyards last month, but this has not been ruled out.

"No decision has been made to take any action over the incident," Mr Bevan said.

Six cattle were found to have died from tick fever on a Tynedale property last month and the remaining herd of 170 cattle are now quarantined.

"Department inspectors have found one property has cattle ticks and tick fever, so it is in quarantined and one additional neighbour has been quarantined as a precaution, although no cattle ticks have been found.

Other neighbouring properties and another property in "common management" by the affected property owner have also been inspected.

The Tablelands are the latest cattle tick hot spot, as 22 cattle were found to have died from tick fever in Quirindi, south of Tamworth last week.

A problem for coastal Queensland cattle producers for the past century, cattle ticks breached the state border some years ago and infestations are down on previous years.

The number of new cattle tick infestations in NSW this year is 34 - down 15% on the same time last year.

"Although the properties are in quarantine, they will be able to trade stock if they get a permit," Mr Bevan said.

Cattle infected with tick fever will be feverish, seeking shelter rather than feed, may stagger or appear agitated, will face up to people rather than backing off, and will pass red urine.

Legs are the difference between a tick that itches and one that can kill an adult cow in a week.

While the common bush tick and paralysis tick have their front legs at their snout, the front set of legs on a cattle tick start at a shoulder position and are paler in colour.

Any producers finding cattle ticks must notify DPI.

Topics:  department of primary industries, tick fever


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