Agriculture officials in Victoria, Australia reported responding to positive identification of anthrax in a sheep on a property near Swan Hill over the weekend.

Public domain image/Titus Tscharntke
Public domain image/Titus Tscharntke

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Charles Milne, said the affected property had now been quarantined and appropriate biosecurity protections were in place.

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

Anthrax: An interview with Dr Buddy Faries

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.

Swan Hill anthrax: Four properties affected, 4300 animals vaccinated

“Incidents tend to occur during the warmer months when it’s 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.”

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. Agriculture Victoria will continue to work with nearby farmers, veterinarians and the local community to monitor the situation.

Ag officials said 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.