New NSW anthrax outbreak prompts second vaccination call

Sheep Central October 30, 2019

The anthrax belt map. Source – ResearchGate.

A NEW outbreak of anthrax in western New South Wales has led to the second call this month for the state’s livestock producers to vaccinate their stock against the disease.

The state’s second and most recent case of anthrax was located in a mob of rams in the Western Local Land Services region.

NSW Department of Primary Industries said biosecurity measures, including stock movement restrictions and the vaccination of remaining livestock, were immediately imposed.

“In both cases this year, the stock that developed anthrax were not vaccinated,” DPI senior veterinary officer, Dr Graham Bailey said.

In New South Wale’s first anthrax outbreak this year, about 350 sheep were confirmed as dying from the disease at a central west New South Wales property in February. Anthrax deaths have also been reported in sheep flocks near Swan Hill in recent years, with one outbreak in 2017 prompting the vaccination of more than 7000 sheep, cattle and pigs by Agriculture Victoria.

A case of anthrax in cattle was confirmed in Queensland’s Dirranbandi-St George area in early July 2018. This detection was the fourth incident in cattle in the region since 2016.

NSW Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services are encouraging farmers in the centre of the state to vaccinate their livestock following confirmation of the second case of anthrax for 2019.

Drought conditions have created a favourable environment for anthrax infections and the most recent case occurred further west than would normally be expected.

Dr Bailey said while there were no general public health risks or trade implications from the detection, in these conditions producers should consider vaccination to protect their livestock.

“Ingestion of soil by sheep, cattle and other ruminants is one of the key risk factors for anthrax, which is why drought conditions are increasing the risk.

“Cases of anthrax in NSW tend to occur in an area which runs through the centre of the state; between Bourke and Moree in the north, to Albury and Deniliquin in the south,” he said.

“Anthrax can be prevented by annual vaccination of cattle and sheep. Producers in high risk locations are encouraged to consider vaccination.”

Other risk factors include a history of anthrax on the property, grazing stubble or very short pastures, low ground cover, deep cultivation or earthworks in paddocks, rain causing soil movement or exposure, contact with infected carcasses and alkaline soils which favour spore survival.

Western Local Land Services district veterinarian, Trent McCarthy said those wishing to vaccinate can apply to their Local Land Services district veterinarian.

“Once approved you can order the vaccine through your local rural supplier or private veterinarian.”

“Anyone who suspects anthrax must report it immediately by calling the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.”

For more information about preventing anthrax, visit the DPI website or call Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.


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