anthrax

UVALDE, Texas — The Texas Department of State Health Services is reminding Texans to avoid sick or dead wildlife after 18 recent animal deaths in Uvalde County, including two which were confirmed anthrax-related cases.

The first anthrax case of the year in Texas was confirmed in a captive antelope on a premises in Uvalde County on June 19, 2019 — in a triangular area of southwest Texas where anthrax is historically found in the soil. Since then, another anthrax-related case has been confirmed and officials reported 18 recent animal deaths.

"Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, which is a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including certain parts of Texas," stated the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), which also sent out notification of the anthrax-related animal deaths.

"Deer, sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and other animals can contract anthrax when they swallow or inhale anthrax spores while grazing," stated the DSHS. "Animals usually die within two days of showing signs of infection."

Officials say anthrax in humans is rare but, people can contract the disease by handling dead or sick animals infected with anthrax, typically by skin contact or consuming meat of an infected animal. The infection typically starts out itchy and resembles an insect bite that, within two to six days, progresses into a painless sore with a depressed black center. People should contact a doctor if they develop an unusual-looking sore on the hands, arms or other exposed skin.

In livestock, acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings are common signs including bloated carcasses that decompose quickly.

Livestock or animals displaying symptoms consistent with anthrax should be reported to a private veterinary practitioner or a TAHC official.

The premises where the confirmed anthrax case was reported has been placed under quarantine until all the captive animals on the premises have been vaccinated and the affected carcasses are properly disposed in accordance with TAHC’s rules.

No human cases of anthrax have been reported in Texas this year, according to DSHS.

"Basic precautions can effectively reduce the risk of people contracting anthrax and other diseases from livestock and game animals," stated DSHS.

DSHS provided the following precautionary measures:

  • Avoid direct contact with dead animals, including their bones, horns or antlers.
  • Keep pets and children away from dead animals.
  • Do not harvest animals that appear ill or are acting abnormally.
  • Wear long-sleeved garments and gloves when handling, dressing and processing game.
  • Wash hands with soap and water and launder clothes immediately after animal exposure.
  • Minimize contact with animal fluids, brain and spinal tissues.
  • Cook all meat until well done before consuming.

For more information about Anthrax, visit www.tahc.texas.gov/news/brochures/TAHCBrochure_Anthrax.pdf, or contact your local TAHC region office, or visit www.tahc.texas.gov.

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