Diagnostic testing has confirmed anthrax in a horse from Uvalde County, Texas. The sample was confirmed positive after performing a bacterial culture in the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in College Station.
This is the second positive anthrax case for 2015. The first was diagnosed in a deer from Kinney County. The West Texas region has a history of anthrax. Anthrax is caused by Bacillus anthracis, a spore-forming, Gram-positive bacterium. The spores of this organism can lie dormant in the environment for decades. The bacterium primarily infects grazing animals (herbivores), most commonly through ingestion of anthrax spores from contaminated soil. The disease is occasionally diagnosed in hoofstock during the summer months; it is seen most frequently in deer, sheep or goats, but can also affect cattle and horses.
Anthrax is a zoonotic disease that can be transmissible between humans and animals. Confirmed cases of anthrax are reported to the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC).
Livestock owners should work with their veterinarian and the commission concerning vaccination protocols and proper disposal of infected carcasses. Laboratory testing is needed to confirm a suspected case of anthrax.
TVMDL offers the following guidelines for submitting an anthrax culture specimen:
- Blood samples may be collected from a vein or from a bleeding orifice and submitted in a red top tube.
- A blood-soaked swab made of cotton or Dacronand air-dried can be submitted in a red top tube or similar container or in a culturette.
If you have questions about sample collection or testing please contact full-service labs in Amarillo at 888.646.5624 or College Station at 888.646.5623.