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Don't Forget Anthrax in 2007

Livestock producers should get their animals vaccinated against anthrax now, the NDSU Extension Service's veterinarian says.

Producers need to remember to vaccinate their livestock against anthrax, according to North Dakota State University Extension Service veterinarian Charlie Stoltenow.

""We do not want a repeat of 2005,"" he says.

More than 500 confirmed cases of anthrax were reported in North Dakota in 2005. Estimates are the disease killed more than 1,000 animals in the state that year. Most were cattle, but horses, bison and other ruminants also died. In comparison, 2006 was a very quiet year for anthrax, with just five confirmed cases.

South Dakota had a similar experience, with 452 confirmed cases in 2005 and eight confirmed cases in 2006. However, just the opposite occurred in Minnesota and Manitoba. Minnesota had five confirmed cases in 2005 and 91 in 2006. Manitoba had 37 confirmed cases in 2005 and 148 in 2006.

What was the difference between the years? Cases of anthrax develop in the region almost every year, but the occurrence is very unpredictable and highly dependant on environmental conditions. Another difference was that North Dakota and South Dakota conducted an extensive media/educational effort in spring 2006 to urge producers to vaccinate for anthrax.

""There's nothing like a major outbreak to get people's attention and remind them to vaccinate,"" Stoltenow says. ""The media/educational effort had a very positive effect in preventing more cases of anthrax."

Now is the time to vaccinate. He advises producers to contact their veterinarian about getting their livestock vaccinated before being turned out for spring and summer grazing. The anthrax vaccine is very effective and safe; it will not cause anthrax in animals and is not dangerous to humans, he says.

Anthrax is a concern because it can be a long-term problem. Spores of the bacteria that cause it can survive in the soil for many decades. Favorable conditions, such as heavy rainfall, flooding or drought, may make the disease more widespread. Rain and flooding can raise the spores to the ground's surface, where livestock graze. Drought conditions can lead to soil erosion, which also allows spores to resurface.

For the latest information on anthrax, check out the NDSU Extension publication at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/beef/v561w.htm or contact Stoltenow at (701) 231-7522 or mailto:charles.stoltenow@ndsu.edu.


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Charlie Stoltenow, (701) 231-7522, charles.stoltenow@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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