In June, Texas animal health officials confirmed the state’s first case of anthrax of 2019 in a captive antelope on a premises in Uvalde County, which lies in a triangular part of Texas where anthrax is historically found in the soil. Now, they’ve confirmed additional anthrax cases, including in goats on a new Uvalde County premises on June 24, a horse from Sutton County on July 3, and cattle on a separate Sutton County premises on July 4.

All the premises have been placed under quarantine and producers were advised on vaccinating exposed animals and the proper disposal of affected carcasses, as outlined by Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) rules. Typically, quarantines are lifted 10 days from vaccination or the last death loss.

“It is common to see an increase in anthrax cases after periods of wet, cool weather, followed by hot, dry conditions,” said Andy Schwartz, DVM, TAHC executive director. “During these conditions, animals ingest the anthrax bacteria when they consume contaminated grass and hay or inhale the spores. Outbreaks usually end when cooler weather arrives.”

Anthrax 101

Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, which is a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution. After exposure to anthrax, it usually takes three to seven days for animals to show clinical signs. Once signs develop, death usually occurs within 48 hours.

Acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings are all common signs of anthrax in livestock. Owners of livestock and animals displaying clinical signs consistent with anthrax or experiencing death of animals should contact a private veterinary practitioner or a TAHC official.

There is an effective anthrax vaccine available for use in susceptible livestock (includes but is not limited to, swine, equine, sheep, goats, cattle, wildlife, etc.) in high risk areas. TAHC encourages livestock owners to consult with a local veterinary practitioner and vaccinate livestock if owners live within the triangular area bound by the towns of Uvalde, Ozona. and Eagle Pass.

Additionally, producers are encouraged to follow basic sanitation precautions when handling affected livestock or carcasses. It is recommended to wear protective gloves, long sleeve shirts, and to wash thoroughly afterward to prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people.