Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) officials received confirmation of anthrax in a horse on an Armstrong County premises on August 20, 2021. This is the third confirmed case of anthrax in Texas this year.
The premises is located in the southern portion of the county and has been quarantined. TAHC rules require proper disposal of affected carcasses and vaccination of other livestock on the premises prior to release of the quarantine.
“The TAHC will continue to closely monitor the situation and encourage producers in the county to consult with their local veterinary practitioner if they have questions or concerns about anthrax,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC State Veterinarian and Executive Director.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, which is a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including certain parts of Texas. Cases in Texas are most often found in portions of Crockett, Val Verde, Sutton, Edwards, Kinney and Maverick counties.
“This is not the first time we have seen anthrax in Armstrong County,” said Dr. Schwartz. “Last September, we received confirmation of the disease in a bull on another premises, which serves as a great reminder for producers in the area to vaccinate their animals with the proven and dependable anthrax vaccine.”
An effective vaccine for livestock is available and is commonly used in areas that are prone to have anthrax. To be effective, the vaccine must be used before the animal is exposed to the bacteria. There is no approved vaccine for deer. For further details on vaccinating your livestock for anthrax, please consult a local veterinarian or a local TAHC region office. All label directions should be followed carefully, including personal protective measures while handling the vaccine to prevent accidental exposure.
It is common to see an increase in anthrax cases after periods of wet, cool weather, followed by hot, dry conditions. During these conditions, animals can ingest the anthrax bacteria when they consume contaminated grass and hay or inhale the spores. Outbreaks usually end when cooler weather arrives.
After exposure to anthrax, it typically takes three to seven days for animals to show clinical signs of disease. Once signs begin, death will usually occur within 48 hours. Acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings are all common signs of anthrax in livestock. If you observe wild or domestic animals dying, more than 10 animals dying at a time, and carcasses show bleeding that is characteristic of anthrax, move livestock away from carcasses immediately.
Owners of livestock and animals displaying signs consistent with anthrax or experiencing death of animals should contact a private veterinary practitioner or their TAHC Region Office immediately.
Producers are encouraged to follow basic sanitation precautions when handling affected livestock or carcasses. It is recommended that you wear protective gloves, long sleeve shirts and wash thoroughly afterward to prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people. For more information on how anthrax affects humans please visit https://www.dshs.texas.gov/IDCU/disease/anthrax/Information.aspx.
For more information about anthrax, visit: