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Anthrax case confirmed in Hill County
AUSTIN -- The first case of anthrax in Texas livestock for 2011 has been detected on a ranch in Hill County near Whitney. The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has quarantined the premise after one cow tested positive for the reportable disease. According to a March 28 TAHC press release, the initial case is somewhat unusual as it was detected earlier in the year than normal and in a different part of the state than expected. There have been no previous cases of anthrax in livestock reported in Hill County.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, which is a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including Texas. Anthrax tends to be diagnosed in livestock and wildlife, most commonly in the summertime in Texas. It usually is detected in the Southwest part of the state. In recent years, cases have been primarily confined to a triangular area bounded by the towns of Uvalde, Ozona, and Eagle Pass.
The animal health commission regulations require vaccination of susceptible livestock on quarantined premises, as well as the proper disposal of affected carcasses. Quarantines are usually released by the state 10 days after all requirements have been completed for disposal and vaccination.
If an animal dies from the disease and isn’t properly disposed of by burning, the bacteria can spill out into the soil and remain dormant for long periods of time. The anthrax bacteria may resurface on grass or forage under ideal weather and soil conditions during spring and summer months, which could then be ingested. Symptoms of anthrax in livestock can be non-specific, including high fever or convulsions, or in many cases acute death is the first sign noticed by a producer. The animal health commission regulations require not only that the animal carcasses be disposed of by incineration until “thoroughly consumed,” but any contaminated manure and/or bedding as well. This requirement keeps wild animals from being exposed to the disease, and it will also kill the bacteria, possibly preventing another site from being contaminated with anthrax.
For more information regarding anthrax, visit http://www.tahc.state.tx.us or call 1-800-550-8242.
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