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Advisory issued after cow on Indiana beef cattle farm dies of anthrax

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File photo of cattle (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The Indiana Board of Animal Health has issued an advisory after a cow on a southern Indiana beef cattle farm was infected with anthrax.

A veterinarian collected tissue samples for laboratory testing after the animal died unexpectedly. Only a single, mixed-breed bull died; other animals in the herd have not shown signs of infection.

The infected animal was incinerated on-site, and the farm was placed under a 30-day quarantine and observation order by the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH).

According to the BOAH, this situation does not pose a public health threat. Humans can contract anthrax from animals, but the risk is low. Only people who had direct contact with the infected animal are at risk of infection.

It is very uncommon for livestock to contract anthrax in Indiana, and there is no record of this disease ever being present in the state prior to this incident.

The anthrax may have been contracted from contaminated hay or flies that bite and spread the spores.

That being said, the BOAH wants livestock and horse owners to be aware of signs of anthrax contamination and to contact a veterinarian at the first sign of abnormalities.

Signs of anthrax include:

  • Bleeding from body openings. Blood will have contain a high level of bacteria and should be avoided.
  • The animal may stagger, have difficulty breathing, tremble, collapse and die.
  • Horses may have colic. Edema and swelling may be seen over the body, particularly at the brisket.
  • Illness may be observed for as many as five days; signs are preceded by fever, with a period of excitement in which the animal may charge anyone nearby.
  • The tongue, throat and neck may become extremely swollen and a frothy blood-tinged discharge comes from the mouth.
  • Skin infections may occur around the point of entry from an injury or insect bite.