BISMARCK -- The state’s first case of anthrax this year was reported in Sioux County in far south-central North Dakota and confirmed Thursday by North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory based on samples submitted by a veterinarian with the Mandan Veterinary Clinic.
Anthrax is caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. The bacterial spores can lie dormant in the ground for decades and become active under ideal conditions, such as heavy rainfall, flooding and drought. Animals are exposed to the disease when they graze or consume forage or water contaminated with the spores.
“Anthrax has been confirmed in a group of cows in a pasture in Sioux County,” Susan Keller, the state's veterinarian, 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.”
Anthrax vaccines are available, but it takes about a week for immunity to be established, and it must be administered annually for continued protection.
A few anthrax cases are reported in North Dakota almost every year. In 2005, 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 counties in the state.