Investigators are probing whether anthrax played a role in the mysterious deaths of more than a dozen bison at an American Indian reservation in Montana, the state veterinarian said on Thursday.

Marty Zaluski said the bison, which have died since the start of the July 4 weekend at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, may have succumbed to anthrax. But he said more testing was needed to confirm what he emphasized was an early suspicion.

Anthrax bacteria can be found naturally in soils but the infectious and sometimes deadly disease it can cause is rare in humans and animals in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Spores of naturally occurring anthrax can lie dormant in the environment for years without being ingested or breathed in by grazing livestock or wild animals, according to the CDC.

Zaluski said results from testing of tissue from one of the Fort Belknap bison will help agricultural, tribal and wildlife officials determine the gravity of the threat posed by the unknown illness.

Written by Laura Zuckerman
Full report at Reuters

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