Saskatchewan is reporting its first case of anthrax this year.

Anthrax can live in the soil for decades and with this years dry conditions in many areas animals are rooting in the soil stirring up those spores which can lead to exposure.

Over the years, the soil borne disease has been found in each of the prairie provinces, the last reported case in Alberta was in 2022, and in Manitoba in 2007.

This week, anthrax was confirmed as the cause of death in one cow in the RM of Cote #271, which is located near the Manitoba border, and in the suspected death of two other animals.

Ruminants such as sheep, bison, cattle, and goats, are highly susceptible, but horses can also be infected.

Dr. Wendy Wilkins, Saskatchewan's Disease Surveillance Veterinarian says animals with anthrax die very, very quickly and may be found to have blood coming from the nose or the back end, often the first sign of a problem is when producers find the animal dead.

Producers that live in areas that experienced problems before are strongly encouraged to vaccinate their animals.

A major outbreak of anthrax occurred in Saskatchewan in 2006.

Wilkins says based on that outbreak we know there's a high level of anthrax spores in the soil in the east and northeast area of the province.

The disease also killed nine animals in the southwest corner of the province in August of 2022.

Last year in Alberta, Wood Buffalo National Park found 59 dead bison, three of which were confirmed to have died from anthrax.

As well, anthrax was confirmed on four pastures and a bison ranch in Alberta that resulted in the death of 31 cattle and three bison.

When anthrax is found, carcasses must be handled with extreme caution and should not be moved or disturbed and should be protected from scavengers to avoid spreading of the anthrax spores.

Anyone who suspects anthrax in the unexpected death of an animal should contact their local veterinarian immediately who will also be able to talk to you about the safe disposal methods.

To learn more about the disease you can listen to Glenda-lee's discussion with Saskatchewan's Disease Surveillance Veterinarian Dr Wendy Wilkins by clicking on the link below.