Dead cow had anthrax, but there’s no risk to the food supply, Colorado Department of Agriculture says

A dead cow was infected with anthrax, and about 50 more dead cattle may have been exposed, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

The affected ranch currently is quarantined and none of the cattle left the ranch prior to the quarantine or entered the food chain, according to a statement from the department.

Only one ranch is affected, although neighboring facilities have been notified. However, Colorado state officials believe the infections to be isolated to the quarantined ranch. People, animals and equipment are being monitored and tested.

“Our focus is on the potential for human exposure,” said Dr. Tony Cappello, district public health administrator for the Northeast Colorado Health Department said in the statement.  “We are currently conducting our own public health investigation and contacting individuals that have been involved with the livestock.  Anthrax is not spread from person to person and exposure is limited only to those who had contact with the affected cattle or the immediate area.”

Anthrax is caused by the spore-forming bacteria Bacillus anthracis and can naturally develop in the soil. The spores can become “active” after events such as heavy rain, flooding or drought, which can expose the spores to livestock, according to the statement.

Colorado has not had a case of anthrax in 31 years, said State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr. However, outbreaks of anthrax “are not uncommon” in the Western U.S.

Often animals that die from anthrax are found dead prior to the illness being detected. It also can quickly cause the deaths of a large number of animals.

Humans can become infected by working with infected animals, but it is treatable with antibiotics (the earlier it’s caught, the better).

The department recommends people talk to their veterinarians and vaccinate livestock, if appropriate.

To read the full statement from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, click here.

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