The Texas Animal Health Commission has confirmed the first 2012 case of anthrax in an adult white-tailed deer near Uvalde. Otherwise, there is no domestic livestock involved at this time, said Dr. Dee Ellis, the state veterinarian.
It is not uncommon for anthrax to be diagnosed in livestock or wildlife in the Southwest part of the state. In recent years, cases have been primarily confined to a triangular area bounded by the towns of Uvalde, Ozona and Eagle Pass, which takes in portions of Crockett, Val Verde, Sutton, Edwards, Kinney, Uvalde and Maverick counties.
In 2005, a pocket on Sutton County’s southwest corner had an outbreak of cases (the first in 20 years) that included cattle, horses and deer, remembers Pascual Hernandez, Sutton County agriculture agent.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by bacillus anthraces, which is a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including Texas.
The anthrax bacterium lies dormant in the ground, and germination is triggered by appropriate moisture and warmth.
As the bacteria migrate to the surface, it contaminates grass and soil, where it is picked up by grazing animals.
Also bad this year are ticks, warns Pete Teel, a College Station entomologist.
“Of all the creepy-crawlies Texans live among, ticks are the worst when it comes to the health issues of man and beast,” Teel said. “This year is shaping up to be one of the worst ever for ticks.”
He said the record heat and drought last year, followed by rains over much of the populated parts of the state this year, are the perfect recipe for tick encounters.
Speaking of creepy-crawlies, let’s not forget about the slithering critters. There seems to be a population explosion of rattlesnakes this year.