In June of 1868, folks in Illinois began sounding the alarm about a killer disease, hitherto unknown.
The victims would suffer a sudden and blazing fever. They became anemic and their urine turned blood red. Most were soon dead.
Not a single funeral was held.
You see, the afflicted were, without exception, bovines.
It didn't take the Illinois farmers long to realize that outbreaks occurred only in areas where Texas longhorn cattle had been driven through on the way to market.
The new plague then had a name: Texas Fever.
Many states passed quarantine laws, restricting cattle drives from Texas to the winter months and forbidding them from populated areas. That made things more expensive for herd owners...and a lot less fun for cowboys.
Finally, in 1885, Kansas outlawed Texas cattle from crossing into its jurisdiction. That was a chest-cracking blow to the Texas cattle-trailing industry. Kansas railheads were the chief gateway to Northern markets.
By 1890, the days of the great cattle drives were pretty much over.
In 1893, a couple of government scientists figured out what caused Texas Fever.
Or more specifically, nasty protozoa passed to the cattle by ticks. These tiny killers eat red blood cells from the inside.
The solution was dipping the cattle. The dipping solution was three feet of water with another foot or so of crude oil floating on top.
Longhorns were left greasy, but mostly tick-free.