An outbreak of anthrax killed 30 cows at a ranch north of Gerlach over the past week.
Livestock owners within a 10-mile radius of the ranch are being contacted by the Nevada Department of Agriculture and encouraged to vaccinate their animals.
Nevada Department of Agriculture state veterinarian David Thain said the deadly disease has been traced to soil-borne spores released during ditch work on the ranch.
"The Department's Reno Animal Disease Laboratory isolated a pure strain of anthrax," he said. "The current outbreak is believed to be due to recent ditch cleaning that released soil borne spores onto pasture grasses. The cattle became infected when they ate the grass."
Anthrax is recognized as a potential weapon and was a significant threat in the war with Iraq during the early '90s.
It is spread to healthy animals by flies and other scavengers that have fed off the carcasses of the dead cattle.
"All animals on the affected ranch are being vaccinated to protect them from infection from anthrax," Thain said.
Workers who came into contact with the dead animals are encouraged to contact their local physician for treatment.
Gerlach livestock producers should contact their local veterinarian, Nevada Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Indusry, or the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.
Thain's phone number is (775) 688-1182.