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Published July 14, 2010, 04:13 PM

Anthrax case confirmed in ND livestock

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s top animal health official is urging livestock producers in areas with a history of anthrax to take action to protect their animals from the disease.

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s top animal health official is urging livestock producers in areas with a history of anthrax to take action to protect their animals from the disease.

“A single case of anthrax has just been confirmed in northwestern Dickey County, where the disease has been reported in the past,” said Dr. Susan Keller, the state veterinarian. “With weather conditions almost ideal for anthrax, producers need to make sure their animals are up to date on vaccinations.”

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at North Dakota State University confirmed the diagnosis of anthrax in a beef bull Tuesday. It is the second case of anthrax recorded in the state this year. Last May, an animal died from anthrax in Sioux County, the first confirmed case in that area in many years.

An effective anthrax vaccine is readily available, but it takes about a week to establish immunity and must be followed with annual boosters.

Keller asked producers to monitor their herds for unexpected 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 suspected in almost every part of the state. The state usually records a few anthrax cases every year, but in 2005, the disease killed an estimated 1,000 head of cattle, bison, horses, sheep, llamas and farmed deer and elk.

“Thanks to an extensive educational effort by veterinarians and extension agents to encourage producers to vaccinate their animals, we had a dramatic reduction in livestock deaths the following year,” said Keller. “We need to keep up that effort to prevent another major outbreak.”

An anthrax factsheet is available on the home page of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture website at www.agdepartment.com.

The bacteria Bacillus anthracis causes anthrax. Spores of the bacteria lie dormant in the ground for decades and become active under ideal conditions, such as heavy rainfall, flooding and drought. When animals graze or consume forage or water contaminated with the spores, they can possibly develop anthrax.

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