Articles: Horse News
Anthrax Case Confirmed in Hill County
Texas Animal Health Commission
~Serving Texas Animal Agriculture Since 1893~
Dee Ellis, DVM, MPA ~ Executive Director
P.O. Box l2966 ~ Austin, Texas 78711 ~ (800) 550-8242
For more information contact the Public Information office at
1-800-550-8242, ext. 710 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
March 28, 2011
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. 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.
Specimens were submitted to the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic
Laboratory (TVMDL) by the producers veterinary practitioner, following
suspicions that were raised during a post mortem examination, stated
Dr. Max Dow, TAHC Region 3 Director in Fort Worth. TAHC regulations require
vaccination of susceptible livestock on quarantined premises, as well as the
proper disposal of affected carcasses. Quarantines are usually released by
the TAHC 10 days after all requirements have been completed for disposal and
It is possible that the dry conditions that much of Texas is enduring may
have caused the first case of the year to be found earlier than normal,
and/or in a somewhat unusual location, stated Dr. Dee Ellis, TAHC Executive
Director. The TAHC will continue to closely monitor the situation for
possible new cases across the state. In the meantime, producers should
consult with their veterinary practitioner or local TAHC office about the
disease in general, and whether vaccination needs to be considered for their
animals, Dr. Ellis added.
If an animal dies from the disease and isnt 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. TAHC regulations require that not only 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
The following are general biosecurity tips that can be helpful to livestock
producers who suspect they have an anthrax affected animal or carcass:
Wear long sleeves and gloves when handling carcasses or when working
with or vaccinating livestock to avoid contaminating any sores or
scratches on arms or hands. See your doctor if you develop an
unusual-looking sore on your hands, arms or other exposed skin.
Although it is very rare to contract skin anthrax, this infection
requires treatment with antibiotics prescribed by a physician.
Practice good sanitation. Wash your hands after handling livestock
(even if you wear gloves.) Disinfect equipment used on the animals
or carcasses. Keep pets and children away from carcasses or bones
of dead animals. Move healthy animals away from a pasture where
animals have died from the disease.
Properly dispose of animal carcasses by burning to prevent exposure
to other animals, such as predators or dogs.
Vaccinate livestock if cases occur in the surrounding areas.
Anthrax vaccine is a live vaccine, so it must not be administered with
antibiotics. Vaccinated animals must be withheld from slaughter for two
Restrict the movement of livestock onto or from an affected premise
until animals can develop immunity through vaccination (about 10
For more information regarding anthrax, visit http://www.tahc.state.tx.us or
The Texas Animal Health Commission works to protect the health of all Texas
livestock, including: cattle, swine, poultry, sheep, goats, equine animals,
and exotic livestock.