By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Officials with New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries (DPI) are encouraging farmers in the center of the state to vaccinate their livestock following confirmation of the second case of anthrax for 2019.
Drought conditions have created a favorable environment for anthrax infections and the most recent case occurred further west than would normally be expected.
“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,” DPI Senior Veterinary Officer, Dr Graham Bailey said.
“Cases of anthrax in NSW tend to occur in an area which runs through the center of the state; between Bourke and Moree in the north, to Albury and Deniliquin in the south.
“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 favor spore survival.
The state’s second and most recent case was located in the Western Local Land Services region and occurred in a mob of rams.
Anthrax is a bacterial pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Ruminants such as bison, cattle, sheep and goats are highly susceptible, and horses can also be infected.
Anthrax is a very serious disease of livestock because it can potentially cause the rapid loss of a large number of animals in a very short time. Affected animals are often found dead with no illness detected.
When conditions become favorable, the spores germinate into colonies of bacteria. An example would be a grazing cow ingests spores that in the cow, germinate, grow spread and eventually kill the animal. Anthrax is caused by the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. This spore forming bacteria can survive in the environment for decades because of its ability to resist heat, cold, drying, etc. This is usually the infectious stage of anthrax.
There are no reports of person-to-person transmission of anthrax. People get anthrax by handling contaminated animal or animal products, consuming undercooked meat of infected animals and more recently, intentional release of spores.
There are three types of human anthrax with differing degrees of seriousness: cutaneous, gastrointestinal and inhalation.
Anthrax can be prevented by vaccination.