Flooding along the Missouri and other rivers through the central United States is prompting a call for cattle and other livestock producers to watch for signs of the deadly anthrax bacteria once floodwaters recede.

“Cattle producers in areas along the Missouri River should watch for unexplained cattle deaths which might occur as a result of anthrax spores washing down and being consumed by cattle after the floodwaters recede,” said K-State Research and Extension veterinarian Larry Hollis. Veterinarians and animal health officials in North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada have issued similar warnings.

“Because the Missouri River is carrying water from the Dakotas where they historically have anthrax just about every summer, anthrax spores may be carried down and end up on flooded Kansas backwater pastures,” Hollis said. “Any unexplained cattle deaths should be reported immediately to a veterinarian.

Anthrax, which can affect all mammals, is caused by a spore-forming bacterium called Bacillus anthracis. Animals typically acquire the disease by grazing in areas contaminated by spores