A case of anthrax has been reported in Northern Tom Green County near the Coke County line. The Texas Animal Health Commission confirmed 17 head of cattle and an unknown number of deer have died. So how serious could this be for area ranchers and residents? Jason Calder reports.
The unusually wet weather followed by a dry spell created an ideal situation for anthrax spores that already exist in the soil.
Steve Sturtz, T.C.G. Extension Agent for Agricultural Resources, said, "We had the wet weather, wet soils, the spores came to the surface, we dried out. Those areas where those spores were, animals ingested them, they became infected with the bacteria and have come down with anthrax or died from anthrax."
Sturtz said it's important if area ranchers find a dead animal on their land to call the Texas Animal Health Commission and report it. Then they should follow the proper steps in removing the animals.
He said, "Please do not move the animal, do not cut into the animal or if the animal is open, the spores can be released into the ground. They are supposed to be burned incinerated with diesel gas or wood. Those are the only things that are recommended."
Sturtz said the information was made to the public to give ranchers a chance to vaccinate their animals and not to create widespread panic.
He said, "With the zoonotic diseases and the thing with 9-11, obviously people worry about the anthrax. This is not an airborne thing that would hurt anyone. It is something we need to worry about infecting people but it is an isolated case. It's been around for a long time, it's been in the soils. It just happened that the conditions were right. We just want to make the public aware of what's going on, not to cause panic and to let them understand that this is under control."
The ranch where the animals were found and nearby ranches have been quaranteened. This type of anthrax can cross infect from animals to humans so it's important to take the proper precautions. To report a case, call the T.A.H.C. at 1-800-658-6642 or after 5pm call 1-800-550-8242 as soon as possible. You can get the vaccine for your animals at the veterinarian of your choice or an Ag supply store. However at this time, most places locally are sold out.