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Published July 23, 2010, 08:57 AM

Anthrax case in ND third county renews call for vaccination

BISMARCK – Confirmation of anthrax in another North Dakota county has prompted state animal health officials to again urge livestock producers, especially in areas with a history of anthrax, to have their animals vaccinated for the disease.

BISMARCK – Confirmation of anthrax in another North Dakota county has prompted state animal health officials to again urge livestock producers, especially in areas with a history of anthrax, to have their animals vaccinated for the disease.

“A single case of anthrax has just been confirmed in south central Barnes County, where the disease has been reported in the past,” said Dr. Beth Carlson, the deputy state veterinarian. “We now have anthrax reports from three different counties. Producers should make every effort to make sure their livestock are up to date on vaccinations.”

Dr. Neil Dyer, director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at North Dakota State University, confirmed the diagnosis of anthrax in a beef cow. It is the third case of anthrax recorded in the state this year. Earlier, cases were recorded in Sioux and Dickey counties.

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

Carlson 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 the work of veterinarians and extension agents in encouraging producers to vaccinate their animals, livestock deaths were significantly fewer following year,” said Carlson. “The same awareness is needed now to prevent another major outbreak.”

An anthrax factsheet and maps are 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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