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State Animal Industry Board Recommends Anthrax Vaccination

Charles Michael Ray

Officials with the South Dakota Animal Industry Board recommend animal producers vaccinate their herds against anthrax as they turn their cattle out to pasture this summer.

Several cases of anthrax are reported every year.  Last year seven herds were affected state-wide.

Anthrax is a deadly bacterial disease affecting a wide range of livestock.   It can also spread to humans.

Dr. Dustin Oedekoven is the state veterinarian and Executive Secretary for the South Dakota Animal Industry Board.

Oedekoven says Anthrax is a rapidly acting disease and there is a limited time to get treatment for affected animals.

He says the first signs of infection are often sudden deaths within an affected herd.

“Anthrax can live in a spore form in the soil for extended periods of time and there are certain climatic conditions which can create – you know – a scenario where grazing cattle can become exposed to the bacteria and then become infected,” says Oedekoven.

Oedekoven says vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the disease and is inexpensive and widely available.

He says extreme climatic conditions can cause a rise in cases of infection.

“One thing that concerns me this year is that we’ve had so much flooding throughout the state and flooding is one of the risk factors for seeing increased incidents of anthrax,” says Oedekoven.

Oedekoven says flooding can turn up soil and transport anthrax spores to other areas.

He says if producers see sudden die-offs in their herds they should not disturb the carcass and immediately contact their veterinarian or the animal industry board to investigate and dispose of the animal.

He says diagnosis is the only way to confirm anthrax exposure and, along with proper disposal, is an important step to limiting exposure to other animals.