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Thursday, March 23, 2023


July 12, 2001 — The African bont has again been discovered on St. Croix, proving to be a tenacious threat to the island’s livestock.
Lawrence Lewis of the V.I. Agriculture Department said the tick was recently found on horses in the Carlton area. While the bont tick was thought to have been eradicated from St. Croix in the 1970s, it was discovered in the Carlton area last year.
In February, a tick was found on cattle being shipped off St. Croix, forcing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to quarantine the animals because of the possibility of heartwater, a disease spread by the ticks. Not every bont tick carries heartwater, an infectious, noncontagious disease that affects the meat and milk production of cattle, sheep and goats, Lewis said. Nonetheless, he said, the discovery of the bont tick is a threat to any place that has a cattle industry, such as St. Croix’s Senepol cattle.
Lewis said the USDA has been notified about the latest discovery of the tick on the horses.
"We’re doing what we can do so the situation doesn’t get serious," he said.
Dr. Duke Dellar, a USDA veterinarian, confirmed that the horses were infested with the bont tick. He said treatment includes spraying the animals with an insecticide on a regular basis every two weeks for at least 18 months.
The tick is widely distributed throughout Africa and is also found on several other islands in the Caribbean. The bont tick was introduced on Guadeloupe around 1830 on cattle imported from Senegal.
Lewis said the USDA will try to trap wild deer on the island to determine if they are carrying the tick. Because of the recent dry weather on St. Croix, the deer may be coming into contact with domestic livestock when they search for food and water in pasture areas.

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