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Case of livestock anthrax confirmed in Morton County

Case of livestock anthrax confirmed in Morton County


North Dakota has its first confirmed case of livestock anthrax this year, in Morton County.

The case confirmed in a beef cattle herd Sept. 2 by the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is a reminder to ranchers to take action to protect their animals from the disease, State Veterinarian Susan Keller said.

Anthrax bacteria spores lie dormant in the soil and become active under extreme weather conditions such as drought or flooding. All of Morton County is either abnormally dry, or in moderate or severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor Map. 

Cattle get sick when they ingest the spores. A few anthrax cases are reported in North Dakota almost every year, most frequently in the northeast, southeast and south central parts of the state. One case was reported in North Dakota last year, in Billings County.

“Producers in past known affected areas and counties should consult with their veterinarians to make sure the vaccination schedule for their animals is current," Keller said. "Producers in Morton County and surrounding areas should confer with their veterinarians to determine if initiating first-time vaccinations against anthrax is warranted for their cattle at this time.”

Anthrax vaccines are readily available, but it takes about a week to establish immunity, and the vaccine must be administered annually.

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