North Dakota's state veterinarian says the state's first reported case of anthrax this year should prompt livestock producers to take action to protect their animals from the disease, especially in areas with a past history of the disease.
The case was confirmed recently by North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
"Anthrax has been confirmed in a Grand Forks County beef cow," says Dr. Susan Keller. "Producers should consult with their veterinarians to make sure the vaccination schedule for their animals is up to date."
Effective anthrax vaccines are readily available, but that it takes about a week for immunity to be established, and it must be administered annually. Keller also says 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 precipitation we have had, conditions are right for the disease to occur," Keller says.
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 dead animals included cattle, bison, horses, sheep, llamas and farmed deer and elk.
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.
Source: ND Department of Agriculture