Causes of Anthrax in Dogs
Anthrax is one of the oldest diseases known to humankind. It is caused by a bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. The disease in livestock is usually fatal in cattle, sheep, goats and horses. While swine and dogs are more resistant to the acute disease causing death, they are known to develop extensive swelling in the neck area. Disease outbreaks have occurred in specific wildlife groups such as bison in Wood Buffalo National Park.
Anthrax bacteria grow in anaerobic conditions (lack of oxygen) and have the ability to form spores when exposed to air and warm temperatures. The opening of a carcass or discharges from infected animals can induce spore formation. The spores are very resistant to destruction and may survive for extremely long periods of time. Depending on local conditions, anthrax spores can survive for years in soil and water. They can also be transported by the wool, hides, or other products from infected animals. Once anthrax has occurred in an area, the possibility that it will recur under the right environmental conditions remains. While it is possible to transmit anthrax from animal to animal, most cases of anthrax are related to exposure to spores from previous outbreaks reverting to the bacterial phase through environmental changes, such as erosion or flooding.
Preventing Anthrax Poisoning
Under federal legislation, all suspected cases of anthrax must be reported. If you suspect an animal has died of anthrax, immediately contact a government health official. Do not handle or move the carcass. The most important step in controlling anthrax is the proper disposal of infected carcasses in accordance with official disease control measures.
Symptoms of Anthrax
Anthrax runs its course so rapidly that it can be difficult to diagnose in live animals. Symptoms that may appear immediately before death are high temperatures, bloody discharge, and swelling in the neck and shoulder areas. Although anthrax infection may respond to antibiotic therapy, sudden death is usually the characteristic sign of the disease in livestock. Vaccines are available to protect livestock.