South Dakota State Veterinarian Dr. Dustin Oedekoven has confirmed the first case of anthrax this year in the state. Eight 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. 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 spores to vegetate and become infectious to grazing livestock.
Producers across the state should consult their veterinarians and vaccinate livestock, if deemed appropriate.
In 2005, North Dakota experienced one of the worst anthrax outbreaks in state history when over 300 animals died. That same year South Dakota saw at least 200 cattle dead from the disease and two ranches in Texas had to be quarantined after the disease was found in cattle, horses, and deer.