Anthrax kills 8 cows in Clark County, South Dakota | TSLN.com

Anthrax kills 8 cows in Clark County, South Dakota

Rod-shaped gram-positive Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) bacteria in a cerebrospinal fluid sample stand out from round white blood cells. Image courtesy Wikimedia

Anthrax has been confirmed in South Dakota livestock for the first time this year. State Veterinarian Dr. Dustin Oedekoven has confirmed that 8 cows died from a herd of 87 unvaccinated cattle in Clark County.

The Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory at SDSU confirmed the disease from samples submitted over the weekend. Anthrax is an economically devastating disease for the livestock industry because it can cause the rapid loss of a large number of animals in a short time. Affected livestock are often found dead with no illness detected.

Strict enforcement of quarantines and proper burning and burying of carcasses suspected to have died from anthrax is important to prevent further soil contamination with the bacterial spores.

Anthrax spores survive indefinitely in contaminated soil, and much of South Dakota has the potential of experiencing an outbreak. Significant climate change, such as drought, floods, and winds, can expose anthrax spores to grazing livestock. Alkaline soils, high humidity and high temperatures present conditions for anthrax spores to vegetate and become infectious to grazing livestock.

Producers across the state should consult their veterinarians and vaccinate livestock, if deemed appropriate.