By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

Bacillus Anthracis: Anthrax

(Published three weeks before 9/11/2001)


Remember that irresistible little blonde girl (Heather O'Rourke)in the
1982 movie Poltergeist? She touches her parent's television screen and
eerily announces:

   "They're here..."

Well, middle America, I've got some extremely disturbing news for you.

Something equally frightening is here, and your diet is about to change,
big time. You may soon be exploring the joys of tofu.


Let's compare Anthrax to Foot and Mouth (Hoof and Mouth) Disease, shall

Compared to Anthrax, Foot and Mouth Disease is that cute little baby dog
playing with a ball of string in the front window of the mega mall puppy
mill store. Anthrax is Stephen King's CUJO with an acute case of manic

Do I have your attention? I hope so, because we've got Anthrax in

When Foot and Mouth Disease plagued England, American meat producers
feared that an outbreak in the United States might have meant an end to
our meat industry.

Now that USDA attempts to contain an Anthrax epidemic, a news blackout
protects the meat industry from a food panic, the likes of which has
never been experienced in America.

Humans do not catch Foot and Mouth Disease from infected animals. That
factoid didn't stop concerned British regulators from destroying
millions of animals this past year.

However, humans can catch Anthrax from infected Animals. Remember how
the army vaccinated American soldiers during the Gulf War? They were
terrified of Anthrax.

The Pentagon considers Anthrax to be one of the most deadly of all
potential biological weapons.

Which brings us to the state of terror in the state of Minnesota.

Sunday's (August 19, 2001) Minnesota Star Tribune newspaper reported:


State officials have discovered Anthrax infected cattle in 12 different
herds throughout northwestern Minnesota. So far, 85 animals have been
destroyed. Entire herds have been quarantined.

Right about now, how delicious does that Land O'Lakes butter sound to
you? Did you know that the Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Company is
headquartered in Minnesota? How about a cup of their new Super-Max


Anthrax infection can occur in three ways:

Through skin, inhalation, and through food. Anthrax spores can live in
the soil for many years and humans can become infected by inhaling
Anthrax from contaminated animal products. Humans can also get Anthrax
by eating meat from infected animals.

The first case of Anthrax in Minnesota was discovered seven weeks ago.

Why are we now just learning about this? The United States Department of
Agriculture is good at keeping secrets. Perhaps they believe that the
people selling McDonald's hamburgers deserve a break today.

I do not share that philosophy. Will the news get out? Only one
newspaper has reported this blockbuster story. The rest have quarantined
truth. The only avenue of free information left to us all is the World
Wide Web. Please use it!

News of deadly Anthrax infestation in America's meat industry might
create a whole lot of new vegetarians.

According to the story, the Anthrax is spreading to deer. Will the deer
carry the disease deep into the woods and then spread it to other farms?

Stay tuned...

17 August, 2001 Star Tribune article Anthrax blamed for cattle deaths Statewire Friday, Aug. 17 EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn., (AP) -- State agriculture officials say anthrax is to blame for the deaths of 85 cattle from 12 different herds in northwestern Minnesota. Most of the deaths occurred in the last seven weeks, but the disease was diagnosed in two more herds and at least one white-tailed deer last week, officials said. "So it' s not over, " said Roseau County extension agent Curt Nyegaard. The affected cattle are located within a 15- to 20-mile radius shared by Roseau, Kittson and Marshall counties, officials said. So far, those are the only cases reported this year in Minnesota and North Dakota. Anthrax is a bacterial infection that cattle contract by eating contaminated soil. Infected animals can die within 36 hours of ingesting the bacteria. Carcasses of infected cattle are burned. On Friday, the Department of Natural Resources warned hunters that bears could have become infected by eating cattle killed by anthrax. Seven farms, roughly in the same, three-county area, reported anthrax cases last year. Farms that contract anthrax are put on a 30-day quarantine. All infected animals must be destroyed and the rest of the herd vaccinated. Nyegaard said most farms within eight to 10 miles of the infected herds should be vaccinated this season. "People need to keep a close watch for the disease and report any suspicious or sudden death of livestock, " Nyegaard said. In North Dakota, livestock producers can buy the vaccine over the counter and administer it to livestock themselves, said Bill Craig, extension agent for Marshall County. Minnesota law requires a veterinarian to vaccinate cattle. (Article disappered after two days)
Replaced by: Final (still posted) Anthrax outbreak among Minnesota cattle not linked to bioterrorism Larry Oakes Star Tribune Published Oct 21 2001 Anthrax bioterrorism has come to the United States just as Minnesota officials were recording the state's worst outbreak of anthrax in cattle since 1938. But, even though the germ is the same, the one almost certainly has nothing to do with the other, experts say. Rather, they believe the outbreak in cattle occurred randomly and naturally, caused by anthrax spores that might have been dormant in the soil for decades. Dormant they remained, officials suspect, until the right sequence of events --thought to include flooding, drought and perhaps even lightning -- caused the germs to reemerge and continue their patient, deadly work. So far this year, animal-health officials have linked anthrax bacteria to the deaths of 95 beef cattle, two horses and two wild deer -- all on 23 farms in Roseau, Kittson, Marshall and Polk counties in northwestern Minnesota. "It's been kind of a bad year in terms of the number of cases, but it's a coincidence; it has nothing to do with bioterrorism," said Dr. Kristine Petrini, assistant director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Officials say it's highly unlikely that terrorists would attack livestock with anthrax. Anthrax normally kills only two or three animals on a given farm before it is detected, and the rest of the herd then can be treated or vaccinated. On most of the affected farms, all but a few of the cattle were spared, and the stricken cattle were burned, said Dr. Terry Boldingh, who investigated all 99 animal deaths this year as the state field veterinarian for that region. Burning kills the bacteria before they can escape and go back into hiding as spores, the resilient form they take when exposed to air. Moreover, it's rare for anthrax to spread from livestock or their carcasses to humans; Petrini said she believes Minnesota's last case occurred in 1953. Last year, a northwestern Minnesota family and their relatives were treated as a precaution after they unknowingly ate beef from a stricken cow before the outbreak was detected, but the presence of anthrax in their bodies was never confirmed. "Terrorists would get few results by giving it to cattle," said Curt Nyegaard, a Roseau County extension educator who has helped farmers deal with the outbreak. "It would be a pretty inefficient way to go about it." Fascinating theories So what else would explain the worst outbreak in Minnesota in 63 years? Officials say it's impossible to say for sure, but after consulting some of the world's foremost experts, including one who visited northwestern Minnesota to investigate, they have several possible explanations: According to one of the more prevalent theories, anthrax spores were stirred up and redistributed by flooding along the Minnesota-North Dakota border, starting in 1997. "There's some belief that it [the spores] could have even come from infected buffalo" that once roamed the area, said Marshall County extension educator Bill Craig. No anthrax cases in cattle had ever been recorded in the area of the current outbreak, but cases had occurred every few years since the 1930s in counties to the south, upstream from the outbreak, Nyegaard said. The flood might explain how they reemerged and moved north. Once spores were brought to the ground's surface -- something that also could have happened during extensive ditching farmers did after the floods or during wind storms that uprooted old trees -- cows may have eaten them during grazing. Or, another theory suggests, the right combination of moisture, nutrients and heat worked as an incubator, prompting spores to transform into their active state while still in the soil and "bloom" into a bacteria contamination large enough to infect grazing animals. This might explain why outbreaks usually end when temperatures drop below 60 degrees, Petrini said. Spores almost certainly are still in the soil, but the cattle don't get sick. Jolted awake A third theory, Nyegaard said, portrays nature as Dr. Frankenstein: It suggests that lightning can play a role in activating anthrax spores by warming the ground and arousing the encased bacteria from their slumber. "Farmers who find cattle dead after storms often conclude they were lightning-struck," he said. "This provides another possible explanation for some of those cases." However the spores become active, drought or dry periods are thought to play a role in how anthrax invades the cow's body. During such periods, cattle often resort to chewing stubs of grass right down to the ground, putting their muzzles in contact with the soil, Nyegaard said. Officials say there's no telling whether this year's outbreak, which followed 33 cattle deaths from anthrax in Minnesota in 2000, will continue next spring. But they say efforts are underway to change state rules to allow farmers to vaccinate their cattle for anthrax without a veterinarian present, a move farmers say would make it easier and more affordable to protect their herds. "We need to get the vaccines, with appropriate record-keeping, into the hands of the [beef] producers themselves," said Boldingh, the state field veterinarian. Aided and promoted by the Canadian government, aggressive inoculation of herds across the border in southern Manitoba, where the outbreak also occurred, is believed to have limited cattle deaths there to one farm this year, Nyegaard said. -- Larry Oakes is at (article still posted)
DEADLY ANTHRAX MAY AFFECT YOU YOUR EMAIL IS SAFE TO OPEN The same may not be said for your snail-mail. It appears that the deadly anthrax infection in Florida was "delivered" by somebody with evil intentions. FBI will soon arrest that individual, and America will be lulled into a false sense of security. Today we learn that the Florida anthrax was delivered in letter form by a man with Middle-East connections. That story can be found on Matt Drudge's website. (Drudge is the reporter who first broke the Monica Lewinsky story). Here is what you will not read on Drudge. AMERICA'S ANTHRAX EPIDEMIC The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently averted a meat and dairy panic by using their enormous resources to censor and keep the truth about America's meat supply from Americans. USDA's mission is to protect the health and safety of America's food supply, but their one true mission seems to be to protect meat and milk producers, at all costs. THE UNTOLD STORY I have learned that there was an enormous meat recall this past August, and that recall may very well have been traced to an anthrax epidemic in cattle and cows in the state of Minnesota. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of meat were affected. Americans have not heard the story, which you will first see here. When meat is recalled, the usual reason given is "listeria" infection. When chicken is recalled, the usual reason given is "E coli 157" infection. This past summer, the reason for the recalled meat was given as "E coli" contamination. In July, hundreds of deer and several horses and cattle died in south Texas after an outbreak of anthrax. In September, anthrax was found in a South Dakota buffalo herd. On August 30th, a total of 500,000 pounds of beef were recalled from various states. It appears that the recalled meat was processed at IBP's Dakota City beef factory in Nebraska. Were cattle trucked a mere 100 miles from Minnesota to Nebraska, and the slaughtered meat distributed to Sam's Clubs in Mississippi? (broken link) Wisconsin: (broken link) Texas: (broken link) and Florida: (broken link) Anthrax victims die from pneumonia-like symptoms. It might be appropriate to autopsy those who may have been infected from diseased cattle and dairy cows. England reacted to Hoof and Mouth Disease by destroying millions of farm animals. British citizens recognized that meat and dairy consumption may be hazardous to one's health, despite the fact that Hoof and Mouth is rarely passed on to humans from farm animals. An American anthrax epidemic might very well have ended the consumption of meat in America. USDA did their job very well. They protected those who raise cattle and dairy cows so that an unsuspecting public might eat diseased flesh and drink diseased body fluids. I do not have the resources to check every trail from every animal, but our government does. Conflicts of interest prevent USDA from conducting an unbiased investigation. The one American government body having the authority and power to do the right thing is the Government Accounting Office (GA0). The GAO is the investigative branch of Congress. What can you do? Look up the phone number of your Congressional representative. (visit to locate your representatives) Print this column. Send a WRITTEN letter requesting a GAO investigation. That is all we can do to hope that truth can be found. Americans have sacrificed freedoms and placed their trust in government to protect their safety. Such faith is not what made America great. It is up to each of us to insure that our children, parents, and loved ones continue to enjoy complete health and safety.

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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