Second Horse Contracts Anthrax in Texas
As of July 16, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has added a Crockett County horse to the list of animals in the state affected by anthrax in 2019. A horse in neighboring Sutton County died in late June, as reported by the state on July 9.

According to a TAHC media release, eight premises in Crockett, Sutton, and Uvalde counties have had animals confirmed with anthrax year to date. These animals include antelope, goats, horses, and cattle. The TAHC quarantined each premises after animals tested positive for the reportable disease. Quarantines are typically lifted 10 days from vaccination or the last death, according to the Equine Disease Communication Center.

Anthrax is a deadly disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a spore-forming bacterium that occurs worldwide. If the carcass of an animal that dies from anthrax isn’t handled and disposed of properly, the bacteria can lie dormant in the soil and resurface under specific weather conditions. Increases in anthrax cases are common after periods of wet, cool weather, followed by hot, dry conditions, the state’s release said. 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.

Animals typically exhibit clinical signs of disease three to seven days after anthrax exposure, and death usually occurs within 48 hours. Clinical signs of anthrax in horses and other animals include:

  • Acute fever;
  • Staggering;
  • Depression;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Seizures;
  • Dark blood oozing from the mouth, nose, and anus; and
  • Sudden death.

Humans are also susceptible to anthrax infection.

The state is advising livestock owners to vaccinate their animals to protect against anthrax. The TAHC also recommends following basic sanitary guidelines when handling and disposing of animal carcasses affected by anthrax. Those practices include wearing protective gloves and clothing, as well as washing thoroughly afterward to prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people.