- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2005

ENDERLIN, N.D. (AP) — An anthrax outbreak has killed hundreds of cattle in parts of the Great Plains, forcing quarantines and devastating ranchers who worry how they will recover financially.

More than 300 animals in North Dakota have died from anthrax in what officials call the worst outbreak among livestock in state history. In South Dakota, at least 200 cattle have been killed. Two ranches in Texas were quarantined last month after anthrax was found in cattle, horses and deer, officials said.

Allen Lambrecht lost nine cows, worth about $9,000, along with the value of future calves.

“It got to where you didn’t want to get up in the morning,” he said. “You would get up and go out and see what was left.”

Farmers have been dealing with the disease for decades. Spores that cause anthrax can lie dormant in the ground for as long as 100 years, said Charles Stoltenow, an extension veterinarian at North Dakota State University.

“It just sits there and waits for the right environmental conditions to come around,” he said.

Unusually wet conditions in June, along with high heat and humidity in July, likely played a factor, veterinarians said.

“We’ve had anthrax before, but not of this magnitude,” said Andrew Peterson, a veterinarian at the Enderlin Veterinary Clinic in North Dakota.

The state has quarantined 85 areas, which means those producers cannot sell, butcher or transport animals. Martin Hugh-Jones, an authority on anthrax, said he expects authorities from several states and Canadian provinces to designate counties for mandatory vaccinations.

A vaccine that can prevent anthrax is available at less than $1 a dose, Dr. Peterson said. It’s routine to vaccinate cows in the spring, when they receive other medicine, but it’s difficult in the summer when they are grazing in open pastures, ranchers said.

Humans are not considered at risk to catch the disease, as long as they don’t come in contact with blood and tissue of an infected animal.

The current outbreak has also affected bison, horses, sheep, llamas, elk and deer, said Beth Carlson, the deputy state veterinarian in North Dakota.

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