More anthrax has shown itself in this drought year.
A sheep was found to have anthrax in Texas and at least one dead cow of 50 in Colorado was diagnosed with anthrax. Colorado Department of Agriculture officials say they suspect anthrax is involved in the other 49 cattle deaths in Logan County, northeastern Colorado.
In June of this year a dead mule deer near Uvalde, Texas, was confirmed to have anthrax. The infected sheep was near Mertzon, Texas, which is about 26 miles southwest of San Angelo and not far from Uvalde.
It is not uncommon for anthrax to be diagnosed in livestock or wildlife in southwest Texas. In recent years, cases have been primarily confined to a triangular area bounded by the towns of Uvalde, Ozona, and Eagle Pass.
In fact, the Colorado Department of Agriculture says anthrax can develop naturally in soil. The spores can become active in periods of marked climatic or ecologic change such as flooding or drought. Anthrax also can spill out of the carcass of animals which die of the disease if not burned and then the bacteria form spores and lie dormant for many years until something triggers activity.
Outbreaks of anthrax are commonly associated with neutral or alkaline soils. In these areas the spores apparently revert to the vegetative form and multiply to infectious levels so that cattle, horses, mules, sheep and goats may readily become infected when grazing such areas, CDA says.
Most states, including Colorado and Texas, quarantine the premises where the disease was found, notify the neighbors and require vaccination of animals at the location. They also track animal movement to and from the area for a time and require proper disposal of the affected carcasses.
"The risk is minimal outside the affected ranch," says Colorado state veterinarian Keith Roehr. "We believe, at this point, that anthrax is confined to that specific premises."
Colorado has not had an anthrax case in 31 years. Texas found a cow in 2011 with anthrax.
Anthrax is not spread from person to person and exposure is limited only to those who had contact with the affected cattle or the immediate area."
It is a serious disease because it can cause the rapid loss of a large number of animals in a very short time. Affected animals commonly are found dead with no illness detected.
Anthrax infection can be treated with antibiotics, especially if caught in the early stages.