The Texas Animal Health commission (TAHC) is confirming the first two cases of anthrax in the state this year, recorded at an exotic game ranch near Barksdale in Edwards County.

Animal health officials say the premises where two sable antelopes died of anthrax is limited to exotic wildlife and cattle are not present on the ranch.

Anthrax is a disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis and is generally a disease of ungulates, where it is usually rapidly fatal. It is one of the oldest known infectious diseases. Humans can contract anthrax by coming into contact with infected animal carcasses or animal products.

Anthrax spores can cause disease in humans when they are inhaled, are consumed in undercooked meat, or allowed to enter open wounds. In addition to wildlife, several species of domestic animals are also susceptible to the disease including cattle, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, dogs, and cats.

"Anthrax is a bacterial disease more commonly found in the southern part of the state. I am going to say the Bermuda Triangle of anthrax is between Uvalde, Ozona and Eagle Pass but can be found outside that area as well," reports Dr. Pete Fincher, Region 6 Director for the Texas Animal Health Commission in Lampasas.

In 2012 an infection was discovered in sheep in Mertzon southwest of San Angelo, but Fincher warns the disease has the ability to affect all other animals.

"Primarily, the disease will be found in ruminants but it can also infect horses, and pets are also subject to the disease. There is also a human side to that as well, mostly skin infections," Fincher added.

 

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The Texas Animal Health Commission has issued a quarantine for the property where the antelope were found. The action requires proper disposal of carcasses before the quarantine can be lifted. Animal health officials say burning destroys the causative agent, preventing soil contamination and reducing the chances of future outbreaks.

"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 an anthrax outbreak or if they have questions about the disease or vaccination of livestock," said Dr. T.R. Lansford, TAHC Assistant Executive Director for Animal Health Programs.