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Response to anthrax outbreak in beef cattle in Grant County



Grant County, North Dakota – Due to the anthrax infection that has been reported in two counties in southwest North Dakota, cattle farmers may wish to consider immunizing their herds against the disease. 15 cases have been reported in Grant County, while one case has been identified in eastern Hettinger County.

The infection, according to ranchers like Steve Bay, has served as a wake-up call.

“We’re monitoring our herd pretty close, as well as the neighbors’. And the anthrax cases, as far as I’m aware of, are quite a distance from us. So we’re going to get on the vaccination program, but we’re going to hold off until spring, that is technically supposed to be the best time,” said Bay.

The outbreaks happen when the circumstances are ideal and herbivores consume the spores. Although some livestock producers are suffering losses, the county is banding together to provide assistance.

“We have helped producers deal with the carcasses of these animals. To date, we’ve helped six producers bury 38 dead animals,” said Patrick Diehl, Grant County emergency manager.

He claims that although vaccines are useful, many individuals wish to get them.

“We don’t have enough on hand. We’re ordering what we can as we can get it. And it just kind of came out of nowhere,” said Veterinarian Assistant Julie Kely.

According to her, they occasionally receive information in less than 24 hours, and the calves that tested positive are given priority.

It is best if the animals are immunized as soon as possible.

“The vaccines usually take between five days and two weeks to reach a good efficacy, where the deaths no longer occur,” said Diehl.

Before they had their first case, the vet clinic didn’t stock the vaccine, and now the phone is ringing nonstop with inquiries about the illness.

“We’ve never, before this year, never really had questions about anthrax. This is the first year we’ve seen it here. So they’re asking what they should do, what to look for, signs that their cattle are sick, what causes it, where it comes from,” said Kely.

The Grant County NDSU Extension website includes information for the vet clinic, and ranchers who have lost their herds can access mental health options.

According to North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, the amount of anthrax infections this year is a result of the weather and soil conditions. Anthrax is brought on by bacteria that can remain latent in the soil for decades before becoming active when the right circumstances, such as periods of intense rain, flooding, or drought.

Animals need to receive vaccinations every year to maintain their disease resistance.