Watch out for anthrax

If anthrax is discovered farmers can access subsidised vaccinations for all at-risk livestock on the property. Photo by Bethanie Sessions

Agriculture Victoria’s senior veterinary officer Jeff Cave is reminding farmers to investigate any sudden livestock deaths and call a vet to rule out anthrax.

“Deaths of livestock due to anthrax mostly occur in the warmer months, although history has shown they can occur at any time of year,” Dr Cave said.

“Therefore, anthrax should be considered whenever there is any sudden death of livestock, particularly if blood is seen around the animal’s nose, mouth, and anus.”

All private veterinarians who deal with livestock have free access to pen-side ICT kits (immunochromatographic tests) which can quickly diagnose or rule out anthrax when investigating sudden death cases.

“There are several reasons why it is beneficial to know whether an animal has died from anthrax,” Dr Cave said.

“Anthrax is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can potentially infect humans. The exclusive of anthrax will bring peace of mind both for yourself and your veterinarian when trying to find the real cause of the animal’s death.”

An animal that has died of anthrax must be thoroughly incinerated and have its death site decontaminated, otherwise it will remain a source of future outbreaks.

“Once an animal has died from anthrax, the anthrax spores can leach into and survive in the soil for decades, waiting for the right set of environmental conditions to infect another animal,” Dr Cave said.

If anthrax is discovered farmers can access subsidies vaccinations for all at-risk livestock on the property.

If you suspect a case of anthrax, contact your veterinarian, or Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer, or in NSW your Local Land Service, or the Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.