State veterinary officials have reported the first anthrax case of the year in Sioux County.

Agricultural Research Service/USDA
Agricultural Research Service/USDA

The case was confirmed Thursday morning by the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory based on samples submitted by a veterinarian with the Mandan Veterinary Clinic.

This prompted state officials to remind livestock producers to take action to protect their animals from the disease, especially in areas with a past history of the disease.

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“Anthrax has been confirmed in a group of cows in a pasture in Sioux County,” North Dakota’s state veterinarian Dr. Susan Keller said. “Producers in past known affected areas should consult with their veterinarians to make sure the vaccination schedule for their animals is current. Producers in Sioux County and surrounding areas should confer with their veterinarians to determine if initiating first-time vaccinations against anthrax is warranted for their cattle.”

Effective anthrax vaccines are readily available, but it takes about a week for immunity to be established, and it must be administered annually for continued protection. Producers should monitor their herds for unexplained deaths and report them to their veterinarians.

Anthrax has been most frequently reported in northeast, southeast and south central North Dakota, but it has been found in almost every part of the state.

“With the drought conditions the state has experienced along with scattered heavy rain in some locations, the environment is right for the disease to occur,” Keller said.

A few anthrax cases are reported in North Dakota almost every year. In 2005, however, more than 500 confirmed deaths from anthrax were reported with total losses estimated at more than 1,000 head. The animals impacted included cattle, bison, horses, sheep, llamas and farmed deer and elk.

While no cases of anthrax were confirmed in North Dakota in 2016, two cases were identified in North Dakota in 2015 in two different counties in the state.