Livestock producers reminded of anthrax danger
BISMARCK – North Dakota’s state veterinarian says the state’s first reported case of anthrax this year is a reminder to livestock producers to take action to protect their animals from the disease, especially in areas with a past history of the disease. The case, in Sioux County, was confirmed Thursday morning by the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory based on samples submitted by a veterinarian with the Mandan Veterinary Clinic.
“Anthrax has been confirmed in a group of cows in a pasture in Sioux County,” Dr. Susan Keller said. “Producers in past known affected areas should consult with their veterinarians to make sure the vaccination schedule for their animals is current. Producers in Sioux County and surrounding areas should confer with their veterinarians to determine if initiating first-time vaccinations against anthrax is warranted for their cattle.”
Effective anthrax vaccines are readily available, but it takes about a week for immunity to be established, and it must be administered annually for continued protection. Producers should monitor their herds for unexplained deaths and report them to their veterinarians.
Anthrax has been most frequently reported in northeast, southeast and south central North Dakota, but it has been found in almost every part of the state.
“With the drought conditions the state has experienced along with scattered heavy rain in some locations, the environment is right for the disease to occur,” Keller said.
A few anthrax cases are reported in North Dakota almost every year. In 2005, however, more than 500 confirmed deaths from anthrax were reported with total losses estimated at more than 1,000 head. The animals impacted included cattle, bison, horses, sheep, llamas and farmed deer and elk.
While no cases of anthrax were confirmed in North Dakota in 2016, two cases were identified in North Dakota in 2015 in two different counties in the state.
An anthrax factsheet is available on the North Dakota Department of Agriculture website at www.nd.gov/ndda/disease/anthrax.
Anthrax is caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. The bacterial spores can lie dormant in the ground for decades and become active under ideal conditions, such as heavy rainfall, flooding and drought. Animals are exposed to the disease when they graze or consume forage or water contaminated with the spores.