Tick fever diagnosis advice and laboratory services

It is difficult to diagnose tick fever by clinical signs alone, as tick fever can produce clinical signs similar to many other diseases.

You should seek professional advice and support with diagnosis.

Samples to collect

Blood and organ smears

Microscopic examination of blood and organ smears from sick or dead animals is the most commonly used procedure to confirm tick fever. These smears are best included as part of general sample submission after examination by a veterinarian. Clinical examination and submission of a broad range of appropriate samples give the best chance of making an accurate and useful diagnosis.

You can, however, prepare your own smears from affected animals and send them to our Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory for a quick diagnosis of tick fever see 'Submit samples to the Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory' below).

Blood smears are easy to make and we can provide a smear-making kit free of charge for this purpose.

Organ smears are also a valuable aid to diagnosis and can be made from animals that have been dead for up to 24 hours.

Learn more about taking blood and organ smears.

Blood and serum samples

Occasionally it is helpful to provide other blood samples in addition to smears if you are investigating disease in vaccinated animals. Contact the Tick Fever Centre to discuss whether additional samples are required and which samples to collect (see 'Diagnostic services and advice' below).

In general, if you are investigating:

  • potential vaccine breakdown (disease in animals previously vaccinated) - a serum sample is useful to assess vaccination status. It may also be worth collecting sera from a number of cattle vaccinated at the same time as the sick animals to assess vaccine 'take' across the group. Heparin or EDTA blood samples may also be useful to isolate a virulent strain if there is evidence of a number of vaccinated animals becoming sick
  • potential vaccine reaction (disease in animals vaccinated within the last month) - an EDTA blood sample may be useful to distinguish vaccine organisms from naturally transmitted field organisms.

Diagnostic services and advice

Biosecurity Queensland provides routine diagnostic testing free of charge, but health and export tests attract a fee. Prices are available on application.

Contact the Tick Fever Centre for advice

You can contact the Tick Fever Centre for advice about:

  • diagnosis of tick fever
  • what samples to collect in your situation.

Tick Fever Centre
Phone: (07) 3270 9600
Email: tfc@daf.qld.gov.au

Submit samples to the Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory

You should submit samples to the Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory, unless you are advised otherwise.

Address samples to:

Specimen Receipt
Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory
(Loading Dock 12) Health and Food Science Precinct
39 Kessels Rd

You can contact the Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory for assistance when submitting your samples.

Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory
Phone: (07) 3708 8762
Fax: (07) 3708 8860
Email: bslclo@daf.qld.gov.au

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