[This page was create prior to the events of 9/11 and the recent deaths of people exposed to anthrax spores; we do not pretend to address human anthrax here.]Causes:
Anthrax in any form must be considered an extremely dangerous disease, both for farm animals and for their human handlers. It is extremely dangerous to touch an open anthrax carcass. Every year, numerous deaths are reported world-wide from consumption of meat from anthrax infected carcasses. Any farm animal which dies suddenly and for which there is not a definitely known cause should never be used for human consumption.
Organism: Bacillus anthracis, a bacteria which forms spores which can live in the soil for up to 30 years. Can be transmitted by wounds, insect bites, feed sources and by inhaling the spores.Symptoms:
These vary somewhat depending on the the species involved. Anthrax should always be suspected when you witness the sudden death of an animal, the carcass does not demonstrate rigor mortis and there is bleeding from bodily openings. In goats, symptoms typically include trembling, restlessness, stumbling and difficult breathing followed by convulsions and the bleeding from bodily openings with eventual death. In some types of farm animals, there can be non-fatal "subacute" forms of anthrax where the victim will demonstrate excitement followed by depression, anorexia, fever, swelling of abdomen, rapid pulse and breathing, weakness and grinding of the teeth. There are also cases of "localized" anthrax infections where a subcutaneous swelling will be seen in the area of the neck or shoulders.Other diseases to consider:
Blackleg (Clostridium chauvoei)and malignant edema (Clostridium septicum), both of which we strongly recommend vaccination against.Difficulty rating: [bold type applies]
DEFINITELY a matter for your veterinarianTreatment options:
Do these things until you can reach the vet
You may be able to handle it youself; for the moderately experienced
Fairly simple; give it a try!
First of all, do not even touch any animal where there exists the possiblity of anthrax infection. Serious or even fatal transmission to humans is a common result. Contact your veterinarian or local livestock authority right away. Some sources contain treatment procedures that can be attempted. We do not feel that any of these should be attempted without the close professional supervision.Prevention
Since the spores can be spread in feed sources, it is generally recommended that, if anthrax is found on the premises, the feed be changed right away. Although vaccines are available for both animals and humans, these are not without risk. Human anthrax vaccine has been in the news lately and some links below address this topic.WWW Resources
Dept of Defense anthrax immunization site
gulfwarvets.com page 1
gulfwarvets.com page 2
CONSULTANT © Cornell's Diagnostic program