North Dakota State Veterinarian reminds producers to vaccinate for anthrax

The North Dakota State Veterinarian, Dr. Susan Keller, is urging livestock producers to have their animals vaccinated for anthrax.

In a press release she said anthrax was recently responsible for “deaths in two South Dakota cattle herds” in Clark and Bon Homme County.

The bacterial disease killed a total of 12 cows (eight in Clark County and four in Bon Homme County).

All of them were unvaccinated, according to the press release.

Keller also said the “conditions are right” for anthrax in livestock with the recent fall of precipitation across the state.

The South Dakota State Veterinarian, Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, said in a press release, ‘significant climate changes such as drought, floods, and wind can expose anthrax spores to grazing livestock”.

“Anytime you have violent storms . . . storms that cause a lot of earth movement . . . absolutely,” said Dr. Kris Ringwall, Director of the NDSU Research Extension Center in Dickinson.

Ringwall also said, “It has been a years” since he has seen a case of anthrax.

“Anthrax is like any particular disease. When it is not a problem you really don’t pay attention to it, but for the individual that has that problem, it can become a very serious issue”.

 Adams County veterinarian, Dr. Bleaux Johnson of the West River Veterinary Clinic, said it has been about four years since he has seen a case.

“I did have a producer who diagnosed anthrax on his property. He lost two animals . . . it was a rarity”.

In North Dakota there have been a rare number of anthrax cases reported over the last ten years, but once the disease is transmitted to someone’s livestock it can be deadly.

“Most people won’t see any signs or symptoms. They will just see an acutely dead animal. One day everything is fine, and the next day two, three, four are dead. It can happen very quickly, ” said Johnson.

Johnson said the bacterial disease is commonly spread through ingestion, and it is not “highly contagious” or “commonly spread from animal to animal”.

In the end Keller, Rigwall, and Johnson all agree that the best thing producers can do is vaccinate their livestock.

“They (vaccines) are highly effective, but they just need to be administered prior to exposure, ” said Johnson.

The North Dakota State Veterinarian has not reported any recent anthrax cases in North Dakota this year, but in the press release said  here was an anthrax outbreak in 2005 with more than “500 confirmed deaths” and “total loses estimated at more than 1,000 head”.

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