First Oregon anthrax case in 50 years hits ranch

An anthrax infection killed a steer on August 22 on a ranch in Klamath County, Oregon, which represents the first case of the disease in the state in 50 years.

According to the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory, the anthrax was isolated to one herd and does not pose a risk to human public health. Officials are working to protect neighboring herds. Two other steers died at approximately the same time as the first steer, KVAL News reports.

"The risk is minimal outside the affected ranch," Brad Leamaster, the state veterinarian, said, according to KVAL News. "Oregon has not had an anthrax case in animals in more than 50 years, but anthrax outbreaks are not uncommon in other parts of the Western United States."

The other cattle on the ranch will be monitored and vaccinated. Health officials suggested that cattle ranchers consult veterinarians about vaccinating their herds. Workers on cattle ranches who develop unexplained skin infections should immediately seek medical attention, KVAL News reports.

"This particular incident does not pose a public health risk," Paul Cieslak, a public health physician with the Oregon Health Authority, said, according to KVAL News. "Our focus is preventing human exposure specifically among those who have handled the animals. The veterinarian who did the necropsy took precautions to prevent infection and is doing well. Those who contact cattle where anthrax has been confirmed are at some risk - though very low risk - of getting anthrax through scratches in the skin."

Anthrax can be treated in both humans and cows with antibiotics if identified immediately.