On February 26, 2015, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognized the Mexican State of Sonora as a region that is free of fever ticks (Rhipicephalus formerly known as Boophilus). Under this rulemaking and effective March 30, 2015, importers of cattle from Sonora will have to submit an application either for inspection or dipping, but not both, as was previously required.
This effort is considered a major success accomplished by the Sonoran Cattlemen’s Association and the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development and Fisheries (SAGARPA) after many years of hard work required to eradicate this pest. This is the first time that USDA has recognized an international region or area as free of fever ticks.
Cattle fever ticks are one of the most dangerous cattle ectoparasites known that are responsible for spreading a protozoan (Babesia genus) blood disease known as bovine babesiosis or cattle fever. This disease leads to lowered milk production, weight loss, respiratory problems and eventually death. Both the disease and the tick vectors were introduced by Spanish colonists settling throughout the New World. In the U.S., with the exception of a small ‘buffer’ area in South Texas adjacent to Mexico, eradication was completed between 1906-1961.
Economic benefits for Sonora include savings to eliminate the previously mandatory dip treatment for cattle which is valued at $1.50 (USD) per head. Considering that Sonora cattle exports to the U.S. average between 250-350K head per year, the savings could be as much as $525,000 (USD). During the past 3 years, Sonoran cattle exports have represented almost 40% of Mexico’s total exports to the U.S. at approximately $325 million (USD) per year. Another important benefit includes less reliance on pesticide use to eliminate fever ticks.