AUSTIN, TX – Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) officials received confirmation of anthrax in a hair sheep, on a premises in Crockett County on June 26, 2023. This is the first case of anthrax in Texas this year.
The premises is located 25 miles southwest of Ozona, Texas, and has been quarantined. TAHC rules require proper disposal of affected carcasses on the premises prior to release of the quarantine.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, which is a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including certain parts of Texas. Anthrax cases in Texas are most often found in a triangular area bound by the towns of Uvalde, Ozona and Eagle Pass.
“As weather conditions are becoming favorable for bacteria to surface, the TAHC encourages producers in anthrax prone areas to vaccinate their livestock,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC State Veterinarian and Executive Director. “Anthrax vaccines for livestock must be used before an animal is exposed to the bacteria. Consult your veterinary practitioner or TAHC Region Office for questions about the disease in livestock.”
An increase in anthrax cases after periods of wet, cool weather, followed by hot, dry conditions is common. In these conditions, animals ingest the odorless, colorless, and tasteless anthrax bacteria when they consume contaminated grass and hay or by inhaling the spores. Outbreaks usually end when cooler weather arrives.
After exposure to anthrax, it typically takes three to seven days for animals to show clinical signs. Once symptoms begin, death usually occurs within 48 hours. Acute fever followed by rapid death with bloody discharge from body openings are signs of anthrax in livestock. If a noticeable amount of deer or exotic wildlife are found dead, and carcasses show bleeding characteristic of anthrax, remove livestock from access to carcasses immediately.
Owners of livestock and animals displaying clinical signs consistent with anthrax or experiencing death of animals should contact a private veterinary practitioner or a TAHC official immediately.
Producers are encouraged to follow basic sanitation precautions when handling affected livestock or carcasses. It is recommended to wear protective gloves, long sleeve shirts, and to wash thoroughly afterward to prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people. For more information on how anthrax affects humans please visit https://www.dshs.texas.gov/
The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) was established in 1893 as the Livestock Sanitary Commission and charged with protecting the state’s domestic animals “from all contagious or infectious diseases of a malignant character.” TAHC remains true to this charge while evolving with the times to protect the health and marketability of all Texas livestock and poultry. Learn more about the TAHC visit www.tahc.texas.gov.