News Release

For immediate release: June 7, 2013

Contact: Michael Crusan

Board of Animal Health confirms one cow in Pennington County died of anthrax

Cattle producers in northwest Minnesota urged to vaccinate for anthrax

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed today that one four-year-old cow in Pennington County died of anthrax earlier this week. This is the first documented case of the disease in Minnesota since 2008.

The cow was found dead on the farm on Monday. Samples were collected on Tuesday and sent to the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Fargo, North Dakota. The Board received confirmation of the positive anthrax diagnosis on June 6. The herd had not been vaccinated for the disease and will remain under quarantine for 30 days after the last death.

Anthrax is a naturally occurring disease of both animals and humans caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. All warm-blooded animals are susceptible to the disease, but cattle, sheep and goats are the most commonly affected. In rare cases, humans can contract anthrax after handling or eating infected products.

The Board recommends vaccination as an inexpensive way to protect animals from anthrax. “Since 2000, all reported cases of anthrax have been confined to northwest Minnesota,” said Board of Animal Health Senior Veterinarian Dr. Linda Glaser. “It makes sense for producers in that area to consider vaccination.”

Grazing animals are most likely to become infected with the disease after periods of heavy rain, flooding or excavation. Cases usually occur in areas where animals have previously died of anthrax. Anthrax is not spread by animal to animal contact.

Any animal in northwestern Minnesota that dies suddenly of unknown causes should be treated as an anthrax suspect. Producers should contact their veterinarian immediately to collect blood samples for testing. Necropsies should not be performed on suspect carcasses as the procedure could result in contamination of surrounding soil. Suspect cases of anthrax must be reported to the Board at 651-296-2942.

For more information on anthrax, please visit the Board of Animal Health anthrax page.