We're still waiting on an official report, but a vet who got a look at some of those 200 dead Wisconsin cows last week says they died of a nasty affliction called acute interstitial pneumonia.[jump]
Cows infected with AIP suddenly have difficulty breathing, salivate like mad, crane their heads and necks and generally carry on in a pretty distressed manner. When the infection is really bad, they can drop dead just from being touched or moved.
The cows' dramatic demise raised our eyebrows because it fit in with a rash of other creepy mass die-offs in the news. And it was a little too close for comfort, in Stockton, just four hours from the Twin Cities.
Investigators say there's no need to worry though. The illness poses no threat to people or other animals. The other cattle on the farm are not quarantined.