Biosecurity

Anthrax found on second Shepparton cattle property

Sheep Central, February 19, 2024

AGRICULTURE Victoria officials have detected anthrax detected at a second property in the Shepparton area.

Anthrax has been detected at second beef cattle property in the Shepparton region, following an initial detection at a neighbouring property last week, Agriculture Victoria said.

One cow has died, while the remaining livestock are being vaccinated, and ten beef cattle have died across the two properties, the agency said.

Agriculture Victoria veterinarians and animal health staff are working closely with livestock owners in the region to assist with surveillance and vaccinations if necessary.

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Graeme Cooke said the second detection was not unexpected in northern Victoria, particularly during summer, assisted by the long survival of the anthrax bacteria in soil.

“Local farmers, veterinarians and Agriculture Victoria are well prepared to handle these incidents, with quarantine and biosecurity arrangements in place and vaccinations underway for potentially exposed livestock,” Dr Cooke said.

Agriculture Victoria said Anthrax is not a concern for the public:

  • Anthrax does not spread rapidly and is not contagious for humans
  • There is no general public health risk associated with anthrax
  • Any risk is confined to people who handle dead livestock such as farmers, veterinarians and knackery workers
  • The Department of Health undertakes risk exposure assessments of individuals who have potentially been exposed and may offer treatment depending on the risk assessment.
  • 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 Hotline on 1800 675 888, to your local vet, or to Agriculture Victoria animal health staff on 136 186.

Agriculture Victoria said anthrax has occurred intermittently in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland in recent decades. In Victoria this is often in northern areas of the state, but historically it has been recorded across all of the state in farming areas. The last detection of anthrax in Victoria was in sheep in February 2022, near Swan Hill.

An anthrax fact sheet on the Agriculture Victoria website is available answering frequently asked questions and providing more information.

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