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Anthrax incident prompts vaccination of more than 4000 sheep near Swan Hill

by Sheep Central, 21 March 2017

MORE than 4000 sheep, cattle and pigs have been vaccinated as Agriculture Victoria staff cope with an anthrax outbreak near Swan Hill.

Agriculture Victoria said it was continuing to respond to an anthrax incident involving deaths across four sheep properties in the Swan Hill district.

Five sheep deaths from anthrax have been confirmed across four adjacent properties. Other sheep have died on the properties over the last two weeks, but these have not yet been confirmed as due to anthrax.

Victoria’s chief veterinary officer Charles Milne said there are more than 30 Agriculture Victoria staff working on the incident, many of whom are in the field undertaking the protective vaccination program of susceptible animals on both ‘infected’ and ‘at risk’ properties.

“There have been around 4300 animals vaccinated to date, including 4032 sheep, 109 cattle, 139 pigs and twelve goats.

“Anthrax incidents commonly occur during the warmer months, when it’s drier and the cattle and sheep forage deeper into the soil when eating grass,” Dr Milne said.

Local farmers, veterinarians and Agriculture Victoria are well prepared to handle these incidents, he said.

Anthrax is caused by a naturally occurring bacteria that is known to occur in the soil in parts of northern Victoria. It is not unusual for incidents of anthrax to be detected in cattle and sheep in the region.

Agriculture Victoria is encouraging all interested persons to attend an anthrax information session at the Swan Hill saleyards on Thursday, March 23. The anthrax community information session and situation update will start at 12.30pm.

Agriculture Victoria said anthrax is not a concern for the general public as it does not spread rapidly, there is no associated general public health risk and muman cases are exceeding rare. The risk is confined to people who handle dead livestock such as farmers, veterinarians and knackery workers.

Agriculture Victoria said as a precaution, people from the affected farm are being offered testing, but there is no impact on local produce or food safety.

Farmers are urged to report any cases of unexplained deaths to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888, to your local vet or to Agriculture Victoria animal health staff.

Further information can be found on http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/pests-diseases-and-weeds/animal-diseases/general-livestock-diseases/anthrax-in-animals

Source: Agriculture Victoria.

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