Tick fever of Cattle

Tick fever, caused by Babesia bigemina, B. bovis, or Anaplasma marginale, is a potentially fatal disease principally affecting cattle in northern regions of Australia. The disease is spread by cattle ticks (Boophilus microplus), and causes a haemolytic anaemia, fever, and weakness.

Tick fever should be suspected in animals showing haemoglobinuria, elevated temperature, jaundice and anaemia. Babesia bovis (argentina) infections often cause nervous symptoms, followed by coma and death. Splenomegaly at necropsy is characteristic. The animal and its herd mates should be examined for ticks

Diagnosis and tests available


Diagnosis is supported by history, clinical signs, pathology and supportive tests


Sample(s) required

Days of the week test is conducted

Turnaround time1

Smear Examination

EDTA blood (purple top tube)

Monday – Friday

1 - 2 days

Tick Fever qPCR (Includes Babesia bovis, Babesia bigemina and Anaplasma marginale)*EDTA blood (purple top tube) or fresh spleen

Monday – Friday


1 Turnaround times are provided as a guide only. For specific information about your submission please contact Customer Service.

Additional Information

Specimen requirements

Blood (with anti-coagulant)
  • 10 ml of blood collected into an EDTA tube
    • Submit chilled
Blood smear (unstained)
  • Blood smear (unstained)
    • Submit both thin (conventionally prepared smears), and thick blood smears
    • Ensure smears are clearly labelled with the animal ID and that it is a "thin" or "thick" smear
    • Submit in a plastic slide transport container to prevent breakage during transit
    • Protect slides from flies and excessive heat
    • Package blood smears separately from samples of formalin-fixed tissue, as formalin fumes will affect cell morphology
Blood smear preparation
  • Thin smears
    • Materials; two glass slide, EDTA blood, haematocrit tube or small gauge needle
    • Place the first glass slide on a flat surface, and put a small drop of blood at the base of the slide
    • Holding the second (spreader) slide at an angle of around 30o, bring the edge back to meet the drop of blood
    • Let the blood spread out along the edge of the spreader slide, then push it forward gently
  • Thick smears
    • Materials; one glass slide, EDTA blood, haematocrit tube or small gauge needle
    • Place the first glass slide on a flat surface and apply a large circle of blood
    • Tilt the slide forward, allowing the blood to spread out along the slide

Customer Service

Contact Customer Service for enquiries relating to testing and results, quotations and pricing, couriers, sample submission and invoicing.

NSW DPI's laboratories are committed to continual improvement of services. If you would like to provide feedback, please fill in and submit the online feedback form.


Phone1800 675 623


Operating Hours

8:30am-4:30pm Monday-Friday (excluding public holidays)

8:30am-12:00pm Saturday (for deliveries only)

Postal Address

Private Bag 4008, Narellan NSW 2567


For Animal export, Plant health or Veterinary quotations, please complete the online quotation request

For Edible oil & oilseed or Feed quality quotations and pricing enquiries, please contact DPI AgEnviro Labs at Wagga Wagga on (02) 6938 1957

For Plant nutrition, Soil health or Water quality quotations and pricing enquiries, please contact DPI AgEnviro Labs at Wollongbar on (02) 6626 1103

Submission Forms

Veterinary Specimen Advice Form

Please Note: These documents are not fully web accessible, please contact Customer Service (laboratory.services@dpi.nsw.gov.au) for more information.

Courier services and specimen delivery

For NSW submissions, please contact the relevant Customer Service team for courier account details and to order consignment notes.

For submitters outside of NSW, Couriers can be contacted directly to make bookings and arrange collection of packages at the submitters own cost.

Commercial couriers may use either road or air transport and specimens should therefore be packed in accordance with International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements. Most submission sent by veterinarians to the SVDL for testing are defined as “Biological Substance Category B” and must be packed according to the IATA packing instructions 650 (Biological Substance Category B). As requirements for transport can change, customers should consult with their transport agent to obtain current requirements.

Samples may also be hand delivered to the site during normal business hours (8.30am - 4.30pm).

Sample Type


Street Address

Animal (including aquatic animals)

NSW Animal and Plant Health Laboratories (APHL)

EMAI, Woodbridge Road, Menangle NSW 2568