For immediate release: Monday, April 18, 2011
Contact: Malissa Fritz, BAH Communications Director, 651-201-6830
State Veterinarian urges producers to vaccinate against anthrax
Grazing livestock in northwestern Minnesota at risk for anthrax
St. Paul, Minn - Producers in northwestern Minnesota are urged to vaccinate their cattle soon against naturally-occurring anthrax.
"Before producers turn their cattle out on pasture this summer they should consider vaccinating for anthrax," said Minnesota Board of Animal Health Executive Director and State Veterinarian Dr. Bill Hartmann. "Cattle that graze can be exposed to anthrax spores in the soil. Vaccination is an inexpensive way to protect your cattle."
Anthrax is a naturally occurring disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. The bacteria can lie dormant for years in the soil. However, heavy rains and flooding can bring the spores to the surface, where they may be ingested by grazing animals. Livestock infected with anthrax die quickly, often exhibiting no symptoms until just before death.
As an added precaution, Hartmann recommends producers assume that any unexpected death among their herd is due to anthrax until the disease can be ruled out. Suspect carcasses should not be cut open, because that can allow anthrax to spread. If you suspect anthrax contact your veterinarian immediately.
Fortunately, the risk of humans developing anthrax from naturally occurring bacteria is extremely low. Minnesota has recorded no human cases of anthrax since 1953.
For more information visit the Board's anthrax page.