TAHC Updates Texas Anthrax Situation

During drought conditions, cattle often graze sparse forage plants closer to the ground, increasing the likelihood they’ll consume soil containing the B. anthracis spores. ( John Maday )

Cases of anthrax continue to appear in Texas livestock, but so far, the outbreak this summer has mostly remained confined to an area with a history of anthrax. According to the Texas Animal Health Commission’s (TAHC) latest situation update, one new case of anthrax has been detected on a premises in northwest Kinney County, and another on a new premises in southwest Sutton County. This is the first confirmed case of anthrax in Kinney County this year and the sixth confirmed case in Sutton County, according to TAHC, which has imposed quarantines on premises where animals tested positive for the reportable disease.

So far this summer, TAHC reports confirmed anthrax cases on 10 premises in four Texas counties, with cases including antelope, goat, horses, deer and cattle.

Spores of the bacteria Bacillus anthracis, which cause anthrax when consumed, can survive in the soil for years. Given the right conditions, localized outbreaks can cause sudden death loss in cattle and a disease threat for producers and veterinarians. Those “right conditions,” ironically, could include drought or floods.

During drought conditions, cattle often graze sparse forage plants closer to the ground, increasing the likelihood they’ll consume soil containing the B. anthracis spores. In wet or flooded conditions, such as this spring in many areas, high water can transport spores from the soil and deposit them on plants, again resulting in localized outbreaks. In a “normal” year, cattle primarily graze the upper portion of forage plants and have lower risk of exposure to the spores.

TAHC encourages producers to follow basic sanitation precautions when handling affected livestock or carcasses. Wear protective gloves, long sleeve shirts and to wash thoroughly afterward to prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people. For more information, visit the TAHC website.

For more on anthrax in cattle, see these articles from BovineVetOnline:

Anthrax May be a Danger to North Dakota Livestock

Wet or Dry, Watch for Anthrax in Beef Herds

How the Veterinary Lab Diagnoses Anthrax in a Beef Herd

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