Anthrax outbreak on Swan Hill sheep property prompts quarantine

Sheep Central, November 19, 2018

AN anthrax outbreak on a Swan Hill property has led to the disposal and vaccination of sheep by Agriculture Victoria veterinarians and animal health staff.

Victoria’s chief veterinary officer, Dr Charles Milne said about 30 sheep died from the disease and he believed they had contracted anthrax on the property.

Agriculture Victoria responded to the positive identification of anthrax on a property near Swan Hill over the weekend.

Dr Milne said the affected property had now been quarantined and appropriate biosecurity protections were in place.

“We are urging local farmers to continue to be vigilant and report any symptoms in livestock that may be related to anthrax,” he said.

Anthrax is caused by a naturally occurring bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, which is known to exist in soil in parts of northern Victoria.

Dr Milne said all sheep on the affected property had now been vaccinated and appropriate disposals were taking place today. The current evidence suggests that one property has been affected.

Dr Milne said it was not unusual for incidents of anthrax to be detected in cattle and sheep in the region, with several farms in the Swan Hill area affected in March 2017 and a property in March this year.

Incidents tend to occur during the warmer months when it is drier and livestock forage deeper into the soil when eating grass, Dr Milne said.

“We are well prepared to handle these incidents and we are currently contacting local farmers and veterinarians.”

Anthrax is not a concern for the public, although Dr Milne said the risk of people becoming infected is very low.

Anthrax does not spread rapidly and is not contagious and there is no general public health risk associated with anthrax, Agriculture Victoria said.

Any risk is confined to people who handle dead livestock such as farmers, veterinarians and knackery workers. There is no impact on local produce or food safety.

Agriculture Victoria said it will continue to work with nearby farmers, veterinarians and the local community to monitor the situation. Farmers are urged to report any cases of unexplained livestock death to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888, their local vet or to Agriculture Victoria animal health staff.

Source: Agriculture Victoria.


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