Officials Say Anthrax Killed 37 Montana Cattle
BILLINGS, Mont. Anthrax has killed 37 cattle on a northeast Montana ranch now under quarantine, the state veterinarian said Thursday.
Anthrax was last confirmed in the state in 1999, the Department of Livestock said. But hundreds of cases have been reported this year in neighboring North Dakota and South Dakota.
The Montana ranch, northwest of Culbertson, was placed under quarantine Monday on suspicion of anthrax, later confirmed.
Hundreds of remaining cattle were moved to a different pasture, and animals deemed susceptible or possibly exposed were given antibiotics and vaccinations, state veterinarian Tom Linfield said.
He said it's reasonable to expect more local cases following an outbreak, and ranchers in the area were told to be vigilant.
In a written statement, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services said the disease poses "little threat" to humans.
The Dakotas have had no human cases linked to recent outbreaks.
Livestock are particularly susceptible to anthrax, which is caused by a spore-forming bacterium found naturally in some soil types. Symptoms like staggering, weakness and difficulty breathing can begin days after exposure, and many animals are dead two days after that, the department said.
The disease often turns up after changes in climate -- a period of prolonged drought, for example, followed by heavy rains, Linfield said.
Anthrax gained wide public notoriety with the still-unsolved mailings of spores that left five people dead in 2001.
Source: Associated Press