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Anthrax found at Indiana livestock farm

Posted: 12:26 PM, Dec 05, 2016
Updated: 2016-12-06 02:42:28-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Anthrax was recently found on a southern Indiana beef cattle farm, according to the Indiana Board of Animal Health.

A veterinarian collected tissue samples after a mixed-breed bull died unexpectedly, which were confirmed to be anthrax.

According to the Indiana Board of Animal Health, there is no public health threat. Humans can contact anthrax from animals, but the risk is low. Anthrax is not transmitted from person to person.

The people who had contact with the bull have been notified, and are following up with health officials.

Officials say anthrax is not uncommon in livestock in western states, but it's unusual for Indiana. Records do not indicate when the last time anthrax was found in the state.

Anthrax can occur naturally in the soil in some areas. Grazing animals have the highest risk of contact.

The affected animal was incinerated on-site, and the farm, which has not been identified, has been placed under a 30-day quarantine and observation.

According to the Indiana Board of Animal Health, the symptoms for anthrax in animals are:

  • Infection that occurs via the mouth or nostrils will produce signs quickly, followed by sudden death. Signs of infection may not be noticed.
  • Sudden death is often accompanied by bleeding from body openings. The carcass will generally bloat and decompose rapidly. Blood will have contain a high level of bacteria and should be avoided.
  • Less acute infections may cause the animal to stagger, have difficulty breathing, tremble, collapse and die. Horses may have colic. Edema and swelling may be seen over the body, particularly at the brisket. Illness is observed for 1 or 2 days, but it may last 5 days; signs are preceded by fever, with a period of excitement in which the animal may charge anyone nearby. This is followed by depression in cattle or sheep.
  • The anthrax organism may sometimes localize in the throat area. The tongue, throat and neck are extremely swollen and a frothy blood-tinged discharge comes from the mouth. Although this is the typical form of anthrax observed in swine, it may also occur in cattle and sheep.
  • Skin infections will occur around the point of entry from an injury or insect bite. The affected area initially is hot and swollen and becomes cold and insensitive. Later, the infection can become generalized

If any livestock are showing these symptoms, you should: 

  • Contact a veterinarian immediately about any clinical signs that suggest anthrax.
  • Isolate the animal/carcass as much as possible from other animals (including farm pets, wildlife, etc.) and people.
  • This may include penning live animal(s).
  • For carcasses, tarping can help minimize contact.
  • Do not move the animal from the site.

Animals exposed with anthrax will need to be treated with antibiotics. Vaccines are available from veterinary supply companies. All animals on the site should be vaccinated. Future vaccination regimens should include an anthrax vaccine.