The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) reported this past week on a confirmed anthrax case in a captive antelope on a premises in Uvalde County. This is the first such case in Texas this year.
“The premises is located within the triangular area of Texas where anthrax is historically found in the soil,” said Dr. Susan Rollo, State Epidemiologist. “There is an effective anthrax vaccine available for use in susceptible livestock in high risk areas. We encourage you to consult with your local veterinary practitioner.”
The premises has been placed under quarantine and the premises will not be released from quarantine until the animals have been vaccinated and the affected carcasses are properly disposed of.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, which is a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including certain parts of Texas. The bacteria can surface, contaminating soil and grass after periods of wet, cool weather, followed by hot, dry conditions. During these conditions, animals ingest the anthrax bacteria when they consume contaminated grass and hay, or by inhaling the spores. Outbreaks will usually end when cooler weather arrives.
Acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings are common signs of anthrax in livestock. Carcasses may also appear bloated and decompose quickly. Livestock or animals displaying symptoms consistent with anthrax should be reported to a private veterinary practitioner or a TAHC official.
Producers are encouraged to follow basic sanitation precautions when handling affected livestock or carcasses. It is recommended to wear protective gloves, long sleeve shirts and to wash thoroughly afterward to prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people.