BILLINGS – Anthrax has killed 37 cattle on a ranch in northeast Montana, and additional cases wouldn’t be surprising, the state veterinarian said Thursday.
The ranch, northwest of Culbertson, is under quarantine and has been since Monday, when the state Department of Livestock first learned that anthrax was suspected, Tom Linfield said. It has since been confirmed.
Hundreds of remaining cattle were moved to a different pasture, and animals deemed susceptible or possibly exposed were given antibiotics and vaccinations, he said. A second round of vaccinations is due in about a week, and the property will be under quarantine for about 40 days, the department said.
Ranchers in the area have been notified, and vigilance is being encouraged. Linfield said it’s reasonable to expect more local cases following an outbreak.
While the disease does not usually spread between animals, dead animals can be a point of infection, the agency and Linfield said. Department regulations require that anthrax-infected carcasses be burned or buried in deep pits, since moving them could further contaminate the ground or send the bacteria into the air, the agency said.
In a written statement, the state Department of Public Health and Human Services said the disease poses “little threat” to humans.
Even people who have handled anthrax-infected carcasses or bodily fluids while wearing gloves would not be exposed to the disease, he said.
People, however, who have had direct contact with infected animals may still want to see a doctor, Murphy said. Antibiotics are effective in early treatment if an infection does occur, the health department said.
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