Anthrax has killed more than 100 animals on ranches in Colorado and Texas within the past two weeks, and experts say the risk of infection may be greater with drought covering much of the United States.
Anthrax outbreaks happen occasionally in livestock herds and wild animals in the United States. Anthrax bacteria react to drought and other harsh conditions by producing more spores, and scientists said conditions are ripe for disease this year. A drought stretches from Ohio west to California and from Texas north to the Dakotas. Many places also have been burned by unusually long stretches of triple-digit temperatures.
More than 60 cows on three Colorado ranches and nearly 50 sheep from a Texas herd have died so far. Anthrax experts and veterinarians warned ranchers to watch their herds for sudden deaths, the usual sign of an anthrax infection. Entire herds can be decimated by an outbreak if animals are not quickly vaccinated.
Reprinted in part from the Times and Democrat