Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture is warning producers to be on the lookout for signs of Anthrax, an infectious disease that can wreak havoc among farm animals.

Confirmed cases caused the deaths of nine ruminant animals in the southwestern RM of Piapot, which is around 70 KM east of the Albertan border.

Anthrax is caused by bacteria that can survive for decades in soil, with any changes in soil moisture potentially leading to spores building up in pasture areas.

Those can then become concentrated in groundwater on pastures, leading to an increased risk of animal exposure in drier years. Spores can also rise up to the surface during heavy runoff or when the ground is excavated.

Some livestock such as cattle, sheep, bison, and goats are highly susceptible to anthrax, with horses, cats, and dogs also possibly affected. more resistant animals tend to include Swine, birds, and carnivores.

Vaccination can prevent anthrax, with the ministry strongly encouraging producers to vaccinate their animals annually in areas where outbreaks have previously been reported.

Animals are typically found dead without any signs of illness when affected by anthrax, with the ministry advising that producers should keep the carcasses of any animal suspected of having anthrax undisturbed and protecting it from scavengers such as coyotes or ravens, in an effort to prevent spreading spores in the environment.

The ministry also asked farmers to report any suspected anthrax cases to local veterinarians for diagnosis.