Anthrax confirmed in two South Dakota cattle herds

Published: Jun. 26, 2018 at 9:57 PM CDT
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A disease deadly to cattle has been detected in Clark County. So far, eight unvaccinated cows have died in a herd of 87.

This is one of two confirmed anthrax cases in South Dakota. The other is in Bon Homme County, and local vets and ranchers are concerned.

"Anthrax spores can exist outside in the soil, outside a source for hundreds of years," Chris Bartelt, Midwest Ag COO, said. "As they're always in the soil and they can live indefinitely. Just waiting for the right environmental conditions, a lot of heat, a lot of humidity, those things can bring them to the surface."

Clark County has seen both heat and humidity, and now anthrax. The disease is tough to detect because there are no apparent symptoms.

"Unfortunately, for our producers, the clinical sign of an animal that has anthrax is a lost animal," Bartelt said.

The disease is spread by the animals themselves, wind, and from the spores found in the soil.

One local rancher, Scott Wicks, has 250 head of cattle and is now preparing to protect his livelihood.

"We will definitely do the vaccination," he said. "It will be very important. And also we try to remain a closed herd, where we isolate our herd from other cows just as much as we can."

The best way ranchers and farmers can stop the spread of anthrax and protect their livestock are to vaccinate their animals. The experts believe that the disease was detected early enough in Clark County to prevent the spread if farmers heed the warnings of the state veterinarian.

Consumers do not have to worry about anthrax contaminating their beef.

The last time anthrax was detected was in the late 2000s. The disease was aggressive and spread throughout North and South Dakota.