Anthrax is an acute bacterial disease. The disease is primarily caused by exposure to spores. These spores can exist in the environment for decades. It is believed that alkaline soils are more favorable to the survival of these spores. Only under the right conditions, the dormant spores can germinate and multiply. The disease effects grazing animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and horses. People can also be affected by anthrax.
The predominant sign in cattle with anthrax is a progression from a normal appearance to dead just a few hours. This causes most animals to just be found dead. This is because the incubation period of the disease is 3 to 7 days.
How does anthrax spread in animals?
Outbreaks of anthrax tent to be associated with particular climatic and weather events. These events can include heavy rainfall, flooding and drought. During heavy rainfall seasons, the close grazing of animals on fresh shoots of grass leads to an outbreaks due to ingestion of organisms picked from contaminated soils. Biting flies may also transmit the disease from one animal to the next.
How anthrax spreads from the environment and into cattle.
The symptoms vary from signs of weakness, fever, alternation between excitement and depression, difficulty breathing, uncoordinated movements, convulsions, bloody discharges from natural openings on body (mouth, ears, nose and anus). It is necessary to note that after death, rapid decomposition of carcass occurs.
Bloody discharge from natural openings of an animal is one of the symptoms of anthrax.
What are the treatment/vaccination?
Anthrax can only be controlled through vaccination programs, rapid detection and reporting and quarantine. Annual vaccination in all grazing animals reduces the disease. It is encouraged, that vaccinations are done 2-4 weeks before the season when outbreaks are expected.
It is also very much important to speak to your local VET regarding the vaccination periods and dosage. When vaccinating against any disease, keep the following in mind. Always be informed. Ask as may questions as possible.
- Have the adult animals been previously vaccinated?
- Are the female cattle pregnant?
- Are they heifers?
- Do I vaccinate calves?
- What is the minimum age required for vaccination?
- What operation am I dealing with? Natural grazing for beef farming, feedlot or diary?