Drought could be a factor in US anthrax cases

Associated Press + More

By DAVID PITT, Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Anthrax experts and veterinarians are warning ranchers to watch their herds for sudden deaths after more than 100 animals died in anthrax outbreaks on ranches in Colorado and Texas in the past two weeks.

Anthrax outbreaks happen occasionally in livestock herds in the U.S., usually west of the Mississippi River. The animals typically contract the disease by ingesting or inhaling spores in the soil. Infected animals die within hours, so sudden deaths are the usual sign of an outbreak.

Entire herds can be decimated if animals are not quickly vaccinated.

Experts say the risk of disease may be greater because the drought that's covering much of the U.S. causes stressed animals to have lower immunity and they tend to graze closer to the dirt that could contain anthrax spores.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.