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Confirmed case of anthrax detected in Sedgwick County beef cattle herd

Cow, cattle, livestock
Posted at 10:23 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 14:41:36-04

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Colo. — A confirmed case of anthrax was detected in a beef cattle herd in Sedgwick County after the producer had seven acute deaths in the herd, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

The CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed the case last week. A second positive case was confirmed positive in a nearby beef herd Tuesday, the CDA said in a press release.

Both herds have been quarantined and are being monitored. The cattle are being treated with antibiotics and vaccinated against anthrax. The CDA and USDA are also working with county officials to ensure the infected carcasses are properly disposed of.

“Livestock producers in northeast Colorado should monitor their herds for unexplained deaths and work with their veterinarian to ensure appropriate samples are collected and submitted to a diagnostic lab for testing,” said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin. “Producers and veterinarians should refrain from performing field necropsies on suspected anthrax cases, due to the high risk of exposure to anthrax spores and possibility for human infection.”

This is the first confirmed case of anthrax in Colorado cattle since 2012, when more than 75 head of cattle died in a multi-premises outbreak across northeast Colorado, according to the CDA.

Anthrax can occur naturally in Colorado's soil, the CDA said. The bacterial spores can lie dormant for decades then emerge in greater concentrations after rain storms, flooding or excavation.

According to the CDA, cattle producers can protect their herds through the following ways:

  • Develop a vaccination plan for livestock in endemic areas by working with their veterinarian. 
  • Monitor their herd for unexplained deaths and report suspected cases to the State Veterinarian’s office. 
  • Move livestock off affected pastures
  • Plan for proper disposal of affected carcasses without causing further contamination of the soil