The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has confirmed the first case of anthrax in livestock in Texas this year after a yearling female sheep in West Texas was diagnosed with the bacteria on a ranch near Mertzon, Texas, located about 25 southwest of San Angelo.

TAHC State Veterinarian Dr. Dee Ellis reports the animal is the second in Texas this year to succumb to anthrax, but the first in a domestic animal. The first case of the year was reported in a white-tail deer in Uvalde County in mid-June.

Irion County Extension agent Ross Benson says the sheep was a free range animal and so far no other livestock are suspect for contamination.

“I’ve been here (in Irion County) for several years now and this is the first case of anthrax in livestock that I know about,” Benson said.

When asked about local reactions to the confirmed case, Benson said it is “business as usual” for livestock producers.

“We are in the early stages of investigation right now so most producers in the county probably haven’t even heard the news yet. But I don’t expect any panic over it. We’ll be advising producers to keep their eyes out for livestock developing any symptoms related to the bacteria.”

TAHC officials say anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax is an endemic cause of human and animal illness in practically all countries. The disease is still endemic in many developing countries, especially where livestock is subject to limited veterinary control.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, anthrax cases among animals have been recorded in 27 European countries, more than 20 Asian countries, more than 20 African countries, and Australia. In the New World, anthrax has been reported in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and many others countries. Cases of animal anthrax in the United States occur in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.