A bacterial infection that often occurs during drought has claimed cattle in herds in Lonoke and Sebastian counties, Tom Troxel, associate head - Animal Science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Thursday.

In a press release, Troxel said the diagnostic lab of the state Livestock and Poultry Commission had confirmed the deaths. The disease is caused by Clostridium chauvoei, "and is easily and inexpensively prevented by a vaccine," he said.

Blackleg typically appears during times of drought when dry conditions and short supplies of forage cause cattle to graze closer to the ground, making it easier to ingest soil particles that may contain the blackleg bacterium, Troxel said.

Blackleg usually affects young cattle between six months and 2 years of age, but it’s not unusual for adult cattle to die from the infection.

The bacteria can cause severe lameness, depression and fever, but the most common symptom is sudden death, Troxel said.

The vaccine to prevent blackleg costs about 70 to 80 cents per dose.

Some blackleg vacations require two vaccinations 4 to 6 weeks apart. If the label states a second vaccination is required, the second vaccination must be given in order for the calf to be protected. If the second vaccination is not given the calf is not protected against blackleg and is susceptible to the disease.

For more information about crop production, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu, or http://Arkansaslivestockdotcom.wordpress.com.