ANIMAL HEALTH

Anthrax detected in northern Victoria

AGRICULTURE Victoria veterinarians and animal health staff have responded to a positive case of anthrax identified in a sheep on a property near Swan Hill this week.

Mark Saunders
Anthrax detected in northern Victoria

Anthrax has been identified as the cause of death for one animal on the property.

Victoria's chief veterinary officer, Dr Charles Milne, said the affected property had been quarantined and biosecurity requirements have been put in place.

"We are taking the necessary steps to reduce the likelihood of this detection impacting more livestock, some local measures have been put in place and at-risk livestock are being vaccinated," Dr Milne said.

"Quarantine controls will not affect the movement of local people or vehicles, including school bus routes."

Anthrax is not a concern for the public:

  • Anthrax does not spread rapidly and is not contagious.
  • 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.
  • There is no impact on local produce or food safety.

"Anthrax is caused by a naturally occurring bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, that is known to be present 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, with several farms in the Swan Hill area affected in March 2017.

"Incidents commonly occur during the warmer months when it's drier and the cattle and sheep forage deeper into the soil when eating grass."

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

This includes strict quarantine and biosecurity arrangements, the vaccination of potentially exposed stock and the destruction of the carcasses of affected animals.

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.

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