Anthrax may be behind deaths of 50 Colorado cattle

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Anthrax is the confirmed cause of the death of one cow in Logan County, and it may be behind the deaths of 50 others, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Though authorities did not specify the location, the Department of Agriculture did say one portion of the state has tested positive for anthrax. None of the cattle from that location entered the food chain, according to the department. All of the potentially exposed livestock have since been quarantined.

“The risk is minimal outside the affected ranch,” State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr said. “We believe, at this point, that anthrax is confined to that specific premises.”

This is Colorado’s first reported case of anthrax in 31 years, but Roehr said the disease is “not uncommon” in the western U.S. The disease can develop naturally in soil, with spores becoming active in association with extreme changes in climate. The drought and extreme heat Colorado has seen this year would fall into that category.

Anthrax is especially troubling for livestock because it can spread rapidly amongst herds, causing death to animals that show no signs of illness. The immediate focus for authorities, though, is making sure the disease does not come into contact with humans.

“We are currently contacting individuals that have been involved with the livestock,” Roehr said. “Anthrax is not spread from person to person and exposure is limited only to those who had contact with the affected cattle or the immediate area.”

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