Signs of ticks and tick-borne diseases

Ticks are seldom seen on cattle, until the females are nearing engorgement, a day or two before they drop off. Large tick burdens, as can occur in the case of cattle tick, are seen more easily. Cattle that carry large numbers of ticks can be depressed, in poor body condition, and anaemic (pale mucous membranes).

Signs of tick fever and theileriosis (bovine anaemia) are often non-specific and can include depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, anaemia, jaundice, abortion, recumbency (lying down and unable to rise), and death.

Cattle with Anaplasmosis (one of the causes of tick fever) can also become constipated. The passing of red urine (red water) is a sign of a number of disease conditions in cattle, including tick fever. These diagnoses need to be confirmed either with a stained thin blood film examined under the microscope, or from blood samples sent to the laboratory.

Tick paralysis starts with weakness in the hindquarters, which can lead to recumbency and death.