The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Agriculture are asking veterinarians to be on alert for anthrax, particularly in cities where people have contracted the disease, said James Hughes, MD, the CDC's infectious disease chief.
The government health officials advocate that veterinarians watch for signs of anthrax in animals, as scientists believe the animal form of anthrax can be found in sheep, cows, and goats in most regions of the globe. If new attacks were detected in a large number of animals first, health officials could rush antimicrobials to humans who might have been exposed.
"As always, we're encouraging our veterinarians to look for suspicious signs of the disease," said USDA spokesperson Kimberly Smith. The Web site for USDA Veterinary Services, www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/anthrax.html, reminds practitioners of the signs of the disease.
CNN.com reported that the advice came as the agencies assured doctors at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene that they have no plans to scale back their surveillance for anthrax.
Visit the AVMA Web site, www.avma.org, for more facts on anthrax and other zoonotic agents of bioterrorism.