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Fever Ticks Forces Portion of Cameron County to Be Quarantined

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Posted: Jan 6, 2012 6:19 PM

Updated: Jan 6, 2012 6:31 PM

CAMERON COUNTY - A small portion of Cameron County is under quarantine. It's a safety precaution to protect the U.S. cattle industry.

Rusty Monsees knows the land. His family has lived here since the early 1920s. He knows the troubles that come along with living in such a rural area. His home is right across from Mexico.

"We have problems with the animals, livestock coming across from Mexico who as animals do carry parasites, fleas, ticks, everything else. Some livestock came over from Mexico; they were found to be carrying fever ticks," says Monsees.

His Southmost property was quarantined. That means no animals or plants can be removed without a treatment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The area is roughly a square mile from where they found the cows. It's going to be at least eight months to figure out if they find any other infestation or signs of it.

Monsees doesn't worry for himself. He says it's something his family has dealt with for years. Instead, he fears for the people in the community.

"Effect on the people themselves there is absolutely no risk for this disease. It's not a human disease, and even if a person was to consume meat from an animal that was infected, the person would not be infected or be at risk health wise from that infection," says research entomologist Ronald Davey with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Davey says an eradication program was put in place years ago. A permanent quarantine line extends 600 miles along the Rio Grande across the Gulf of Mexico. The newly placed quarantine on Monsees' property is a direct effect of a penetration through the front lines of that permanent quarantine. If the infestation of ticks was to go any further, it could mean big trouble for the cattle business.

"Considering the fact that the entire U.S. cattle herd is totally susceptible to this disease, it's not unlikely that if this disease was reestablished in the United States, the mortality rate could be as high as 90 percent in the cattle population throughout the southeastern United States," says Davey.

It's a hit that Davey says would cost the cattle business an estimated $100 billion. Monsees fears the worst if more isn't done.

"This can be a never-ending deal," says Monsees.

The perm ant quarantine area is patrolled by mounted inspectors known as tick riders. Monsees hopes an aggressive effort will put an end to the dangers.

Topics: Cameron county, ticks, parasites, quarantine

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