LINCOLN — Cattle in North Dakota and Texas have tested positive for anthrax.

Nebraska Department of Agriculture officials encourage Nebraska livestock owners to watch for anthrax signs and consult with veterinarians about vaccines.

Anthrax, which often is deadly within 48 hours after symptoms are observed, is caused by a spore-forming bacteria (Bacillus anthracis) that can remain alive, but dormant in the soil for years. Animals can ingest it by consuming contaminated grass and hay or by inhaling spores.

State Veterinarian Dennis Hughes said a few cases are reported in the United States almost every year. There is an effective vaccine available, he added.

Common symptoms that usually show up three to seven days after exposure include acute fever, staggering, difficulty breathing and seizures.

Anthrax can affect cattle, deer, other livestock, dogs and people.

Livestock producers who suspect anthrax should immediately notify their veterinarians or NDA at 402-471-2351.

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