Cost and impact of ticks

Ticks cause direct damage to their hosts in a variety of ways.

  • Their bite wounds affect the subsequent quality of the leather made from those hides and skins.
  • The bite wounds can become infected by bacteria, which can lead to complications.
  • Fresh tick bite wounds can, in exceptional circumstances, attract flies and lead to flystrike.
  • Heavy tick burdens lead to anaemia and loss of live weight.
  • Some ticks are toxic, and can cause tissue damage at the site of attachment, or affect the nervous system, as in the case of paralysis tick.
  • Ticks can also be indirectly harmful by transmitting diseases such as Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis (jointly known as tick fever in Australia) and theileriosis (bovine anaemia).

The annual cost of the direct and indirect impact of ticks on cattle, combined with the cost of chemical treatment, was estimated at AUD$160 million in 2015.

Figure 1. Hide damage from a cattle tick infestation. Image courtesy of Lex Turner
Figure 1. Hide damage from a cattle tick infestation. Image courtesy of Lex Turner