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Beef cattle anthrax cases increase, Hettinger County now affected

BISMARCK, N.D. – There are now 16 premises affected by anthrax in southwest North Dakota; 15 laboratory-confirmed cases and one probable case based on clinical signs. One confirmed case is in eastern Hettinger County with the remaining cases in Grant County. The cases were confirmed by the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

“The cases are a reminder to livestock producers throughout the state to take action to protect their animals from the disease, especially in areas with a past history of anthrax,” State Veterinarian Dr. Ethan Andress said. “Producers in the affected area have been working with veterinarians to vaccinate and treat animals.  Veterinarians are reporting that the vaccination and treatment protocols are extremely effective.”

Conditions are right for anthrax in many areas of the state. Producers should monitor their herds for unexplained deaths and work with their veterinarian to ensure appropriate samples are collected and submitted to a diagnostic lab to give the best chance of obtaining a diagnosis. Vaccines must be given annually for continued protection.

The response has been a coordinated effort by multiple entities on the state and local level, including health care experts, emergency management, NDSU Extension, environmental and disposal personnel, as well as other producers and county officials.

“While typically only a few anthrax cases are reported in North Dakota every year, it can cause devastating losses in affected herds,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “Weather and soil conditions have contributed to the number of cases we’re seeing this year.”

More information about anthrax and maps of current and past cases are available on North Dakota Department of Agriculture website at www.ndda.nd.gov/diseases/anthrax.

Anthrax is caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. The bacterial spores can lie dormant in the ground for decades and become active under ideal conditions, such as heavy rainfall, flooding and drought. Animals are exposed to the disease when they graze or consume forage or water contaminated with the spores.

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