Agricultural History Series
Missouri State University

Anthrax in Missouri

An 1887 Case in Vernon County, Missouri

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1887 Outbreak

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  • The Missouri State Veterinarian was called to Vernon County on July 25, 1887, in response to a disease outbreak. Dr. Paul Paquin, M.D., V.S. visited the farms of Mr. Norman and Mr. Moyer near Schell City. Several cattle and horses on those farms had recently died of an unknown disease. The disease was first thought to be Texas (or Tick) Fever by many. However, since the disease affected both cattle and horses, this excluded the idea of the so-called Texas Fever, because it was agreed by that time that Texas Fever did does not affect horses.
  • The symptoms of the disease had developed rapidly in the Schell City cattle and were soon followed by death. Lesions were found in the spleen, intestines, throat, blood, heart, muscles, and under the skin. There appeared to be fluid accumulation and there was rapid swelling of the throat and neck in horses, which was followed by sudden death. So the fact that cattle and horses became sick and died from the above symptoms in the same field, and since animals of both species which had been in the pasture and that had been moved also died in other fields with the same symptoms were evidence which describe anthrax according to Dr. Paquin (Anthrax 2). Dr. Paquin visited Nevada and made the announcement that the cattle and horses had, in fact, died of anthrax.

    In order to control the outbreak of anthrax Dr. Paquin put in place the following guidelines for Mr. Norman and the area around Schell City:

    1. No sheep, horses or cattle should be kept in Mr. Norman's infected pasture, north of his residence until cold weather comes except the cattle already in the pasture.

    2. All cattle, horses and other animals dying in the neighborhood should be opened, freely sprinkled with quick lime inside and on the body and then buried deep. Complete burning is the safe guard.

    3. No carcass should be dragged on the highway, nor disposed of in ponds, creeks, or other running bodies of water, but should be disposed of promptly and properly on the proprietor's land.

    4. When the disease originates on a pasture where the source seems to be, all the healthy stock should be removed by itself on another pasture and the sick left on the infected grounds.

    5. Drink not the milk from diseased or feverish cows when the symptoms are apparent.

    6. Pure water, good food and plenty of shade are useful in stopping the disease.

  • Dr. Paquin also mentioned that Mr. Norman's farm was virtually quarantined and a more strict quarantine would be declared if necessary. Paquin recommended that everyone watch sick animals. He also suggested that owners "open and examine with gloves on" any animal that died in the neighborhood.
  • Dr. Paquin wrote in conclusion, "There is no need of alarm. The disease is not likely to spread, at least not fast. It may stop where it is, but nothing is positive about this." He also wrote, "Some of these instructions may appear useless to a few. To these I say, remember the old saying, 'Prudence is the mother of safety.'"


  • "Anthrax". The Daily Mail. Nevada, Missouri. July 25, 1887: 2.

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