One of the very bad diseases that impact white-tailed deer is anthrax. It tends to rear its ugly head every few years, particularly during hot, dry periods. It’s returned to the far western portion of the Edward’s Plateau. Anthrax has been detected in two sable antelopes in Edwards County, near Barksdale, Texas. This is the first confirmed anthrax case in Texas this year.
The affected premises has only exotic animals, so no domestic livestock are involved in this case. The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has issued a quarantine requiring proper disposal of carcasses before the quarantine can be released. Burning destroys the causative agent, preventing soil contamination and reducing the chances of future outbreaks.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, whichis a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including Texas. It is not uncommon for anthrax to be diagnosed in livestock or wildlife in the southwestern part of the state. Basic sanitation precautions such as hand washing, wearing long sleeves and gloves can prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people if handling affected livestock or carcasses.
Acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings are all common signs of anthrax in livestock and white-tailed deer. Carcasses may also appear bloated and appear to decompose quickly. Livestock or animals displaying symptoms consistent with anthrax should be reported to a private veterinary practitioner or TAHC official.
“The TAHC will continue to closely monitor the situation for possible new cases across the state. Producers are encouraged to consult their veterinary practitioner or local TAHC office if they suspect they are having an anthrax outbreak or if they have questions about the disease or vaccination of livestock,” Dr. T.R. Lansford, TAHC Assistant Executive Director for Animal Health Programs, said.
For more information regarding Anthrax, contact your local TAHC region or call 1-800-550-8242 or visit their website.