Also of concern to animal health officials are carcasses of animals infected with anthrax. Not only can the disease be transferred to the soil from the blood of dead animals where grazing animals may become exposed, but there is a risk of hunters finding and handling carcasses that have succumbed to the disease.

"Normally the effect of anthrax infection is a very rapid death and there may not be any visible signs that caused the death. If hunters should come upon a carcass, they are advised to leave it alone and not to handle it because anthrax can be spread to human subjects as the bacteria can enter the system through any type of abrasion or scratch," Fincher added.

He says good personal hygiene such as washing hands after handling domestic animals or wildlife will help reduce the chance of disease transmission, especially in cases involving anthrax. He adds that it is not uncommon for anthrax to be diagnosed in livestock or wildlife, especially in the southwestern part of the state. Basic sanitation precautions such as washing hands and wearing long sleeves and gloves can prevent accidental spread of the bacteria.

For infected animals that are still alive, officials say acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings are all common signs of anthrax in livestock. Carcasses may also appear bloated and decompose quickly. Livestock or animals displaying symptoms consistent with anthrax should be reported to a private veterinary practitioner or TAHC official.

Fincher says it is important to note that the death of the two antelope does not represent an anthrax outbreak in Texas.

"To our knowledge there is not an outbreak of the disease in Texas. Anthrax is a reportable disease and normally the Texas Animal Health Commission is notified immediately after an animal is found where anthrax infection is suspected," he added.

He says TAHC advises veterinarians and livestock producers not to open the carcass or conduct post mortem analysis of an animal believed to have contracted the bacteria.

"In cases involving anthrax or where anthrax is suspected we ask that a blood sample be taken and submitted to the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostics Laboratory for further examination."

For more information regarding Anthrax, contact your local TAHC region or call 1-800-550-8242 or visit www.tahc.texas.gov.

 

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