It was a disease of cattle -- not people.
Cattle herds in the Northern States were succumbing to a mysterious and usually fatal blood disease. It didn’t take long for the blame to fall on Texas Longhorns trailed north on cattle drives. When Longhorns were mixed with northern cattle, a disease seemed to be transmitted. The other cattle died.
The upshot was an attempt to stop the Longhorn cattle drives. And indeed, Kansas managed to pass legislation barring cattle drives from entering that State. As a response, a Texas Representative In the US Congress introduced a bill which would have established a national cattle trail from Texas all the way to Canada. The bill failed.
A pioneering entomologist, Theobald Smith, discovered that Texas Fever was transmitted by a tick. Longhorns carried the ticks with them on the trail. Longhorn calves got a mild dose of the disease which gave them immunity as steers. Northern cattle had no immunity.
Dipping vats developed by Robert J. Kleberg on the King Ranch proved effective in de-ticking cattle. Rancher Robert G. once showed me she remains of an old dipping vat near Ben Bolt, Texas.
It wasn’t enough to save the trail drives. Anti-trail legislation, the increase in farming on the Midwest plains, barbed wire, the spread of railroads into Texas – all contributed to the demise of the big cattle drives. I think Texas Fever has been eradicated from the US.
As always – I could be wrong.
November 17, 2015
“I didn’t drive eleven hours across the state of Texas to watch my cholesterol.”— Rob Walsh.