Sutton County is leading in the number of confirmed cases of anthrax in animals compared to surrounding counties typically affected by seasonal anthrax outbreaks.

The number of confirmed cases of anthrax in Sutton County is now at seven, according to a July 29 situational update issued by the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC). The affected area now includes the southwest and southeast parts of the county.

While all of the confirmed cases of anthrax have so far been in the southwest part of Sutton County, the most recent case was confirmed on a premises in southeastern Sutton County.

The type of animal was not identified specifically in the update.

“To date, 14 premises in five Texas counties have had animals confirmed with anthrax,” the TAHC update said. “Animals include the following species, antelope, goat, horses, deer and cattle.”

These counties and number of cases include: Crockett – 2, Kinney – 1, Sutton – 7, Uvalde – 3, and Val Verde – 1.

As noted before, Sutton County stands out for having the most confirmed cases.

All of the premises have been quarantined, according to the TAHC. Anthrax quarantine typically lasts 10 days from vaccination or the last death loss.

The TAHC is advising stock producers to vaccinate their animals and dispose of affected carcasses as outline by TAHC’s rules.

“An effective anthrax vaccine is available for use in susceptible livestock (including but is not limited to swine, equine, sheep, goats, cattle, etc.) TAHC encourages livestock owners to consult with a local veterinary practitioner and consider vaccinating livestock if owners live where anthrax is historically found.”

TAHC regulations require that each carcass is “burned until they are thoroughly consumed to prevent the organism from further contaminating the soil. Burning carcasses is the only method to ensure that the anthrax bacteria will be killed.”

Further, due to environmental concerns, heavy oils or tires should not be used to burn carcasses. Fuels permitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) include gasoline, diesel or wood. Moreover, use caution when burning carcasses. In counties under a burn ban, burning must be coordinated with local fire authorities prior to carcass disposal. Presently, a burn ban is effect in Sutton County.

If the animal was housed in a barn, the carcass, bedding, manure, other contaminated material and surrounding soil should be promptly removed and burned.

Producers are also encouraged to follow basic sanitation precautions when handling affected livestock or carcasses, according to TAHC.

The first case of anthrax was confirmed in one captive antelope on a property in Uvalde this past June 19. Just days later, another case was confirmed in Uvalde on June 24 and one Sutton County horse was confirmed to have anthrax on July 3. The following day, July 4, cattle on a separate property was confirmed to have anthrax.

A July 16 update by the TAHC said there were three additional premises in southwest Sutton County on one premise in south central Crockett County where animals were confirmed to have anthrax. Another update on July 22, confirmed one new premises in southwest Sutton County raising the number of confirmed cases to six.

As of July 29, 2019, anthrax was confirmed on a property in southeast Sutton County bringing the total number of confirmed cases of anthrax to seven.

2019 is quickly becoming one of the worst years for livestock and wildlife deaths due to anthrax in Sutton County as well as other surrounding counties.

Anthrax is historically found in Crockett, Uvalde, Sutton, Edwards, Kinney and Maverick counties, according to TAHC.

Outbreaks are common after periods of wet, cool weather, followed by hot dry conditions such as have been experienced locally this past year. Cooler weather usually ends the outbreak as it causes anthrax bacteria to become dormant again.

For eligible livestock owners who lost animals due to anthrax, identified as an eligible disease, the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides some compensation.

For more information about LIP visit: https://www.fsa.usda.gov. For more information on anthrax visit: https://www.tahc.texas.gov.