Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) officials are encouraging livestock owners to vaccinate their animals after anthrax was confirmed in a cow in southeast Webb County in mid-April.

Bacillus anthracis bacteria using Gram-stain technique
Anthrax bacterium/CDC

“The anthrax vaccination is reliable and proven to protect livestock from the disease,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC Interim Executive Director. “Livestock owners are urged to consult with their local veterinary practitioners about vaccination.”

Anthrax cases in Texas are historically found in the triangular area bound by the towns of Uvalde, Ozona and Eagle Pass. This area includes portions of Crockett, Val Verde, Sutton, Edwards, Kinney and Maverick counties.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, which is a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including certain parts of Texas. It is not uncommon for anthrax to be diagnosed in the southwestern part of the state.

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 displaying symptoms consistent with anthrax should be reported to a private veterinary practitioner or a TAHC official. If affected livestock or carcasses must be handled, producers are encouraged to follow basic sanitation precautions such as wearing protective gloves, long sleeve shirts and washing thoroughly afterward to prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people.

LISTEN: Anthrax in animals: An interview with Dr. Buddy Faries