Anthrax found in Minnesota cattle for first time in decade

TOPSHOT - A photo taken on May 31, 2018 shows a cow eating grass on a dairy farm near Cambridge. - New Zealands Fonterra, the worlds largest dairy cooperative. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced cattle in northwestern Minnesota were infected with anthrax, the first recorded case in the state for more than a decade. 

The disease was detected in a horse and cattle in Kittson County, and the property has since been quarantined, the BAH said in a press release Friday. 

The last reported anthrax case was detected in a cow from Pennington County in June 2013. In the past, anthrax has typically been concentrated in northwest Minnesota and is rarely seen in the state as livestock can be vaccinated against the disease. 

"One of the reasons we don’t see a lot of anthrax cases in the state anymore is because we have proactive measures to protect livestock like vaccinations," said Dr. Katie Cornille, who oversees the Board’s bovine programs. "With this detection in Kittson County, livestock producers who graze their animals on pasture in and around the county should talk to their veterinarian about vaccinating their animals if they aren’t already."

Anthrax typically occurs in the summer and is caused by a spore-forming bacterium, which can emerge after rainstorms, flooding or excavation. Animals who graze on pastures are more likely to get the disease and often die before showing any symptoms. 

The BAH said it's important to have a veterinarian examine animals that die suddenly or are found dead on the pasture as spores can survive in the soil for years which endangers other animals.  

Although the risk is low, people who have been in contact with animals suspected of having anthrax should consult their medical provider. The disease spreads through contact with animals or their products but is not a risk to the public.

BAH did not specify which breed of livestock were infected with anthrax.