Officials at the Texas Animal Health Commission say USDA is releasing 23,478 acres from its temporary cattle fever tick quarantine zone in Starr County effective immediately. The zone is one of four cattle fever tick areas in that county placed in temporary quarantine since 2007.

Since 1906, federal regulations have authorized both permanent and temporary quarantine areas to control cattle fever tick disease. In contemporary times, permanent quarantines for a thin stretch of property located along the U.S./Mexico border in eight South Texas counties have been under quarantine. This quarantine area includes a thin strip of property ranging between a few hundred yards up to five miles wide.

But four additional areas in Starr County were added to the temporary quarantine zone in 2007 after escalating case numbers of parasite infections were reported on South Texas ranches.

Cattle fever ticks are capable of carrying and transmitting ‘babesia,’ a blood parasite deadly to cattle. Although the ticks were practically eradicated from the U.S. in 1943, USDA says the vigilance against the pest cannot end, due to its existence in Mexico.

Previously released areas from the temporary preventive fever tick quarantine area (TPQA) in Starr County consisted of 42,111 acres released on November 2, 2011, followed by 45,969 acres released on December 21, 2011. The release of this portion of the Starr County temporary quarantine area (TPQA) rescinds all movement restrictions placed on the livestock and wildlife within the 23,000-plus acres. Only one small area (33,000 acres) in Starr County now remains under temporary quarantine.