Nitrate-contaminated plants have been attributed as the cause of the rising illness of Cache County cattle.

Some local news organizations have reported the cattle sickness was spread through over-fertilization of the soil where feed is grown. Sources have confirmed this is not the case.

“The EPA confirmed with us that groundwater supply and one river system in the valley tested positive for high levels of nitrate,” said Dawn Otterby, representative from the Utah Agricultural Quality Control Board.

Originally thought to be an isolated problem at Ganz Dairy, reports of sick cattle are spreading across the valley.

“Nitrate is being absorbed by plants in the ground water that the cattle are consuming,” said Dr. Cord Brannigan, local veterinarian and dairy specialist. “This sickness is affecting only lactating cattle in the area.”

There is no known effect on the animals milk or beef that would harm humans.

If the affected cattle are treated soon after exposure, their survival rate is reported to be high.

“Success rate of our treatment is directly related to how much nitrate has been ingested and how long the cattle have been exposed to the contaminant,” Brannigan said. “Our main treatment for the heavily infected cattle is through Methylene blue. We inject the treatment into the animals blood every four to five hours until symptoms are resolved.”

A press conference will be held with the CEO of Ganz Dairy, Don Draper, at 1:30 p.m. at Utah State University  where the public can further discuss the illness.

By Paul Christiansen and Michael Royer