Officials with the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office have reported an animal anthrax case on a canton of Jura farm near the border with France to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Monday.

Agricultural Research Service/USDA
Agricultural Research Service/USDA

One cow that died suddenly tested positive for Bacillus anthracis, the bacterial agent of anthrax. Officials say two other animals have fever; however, results not yet available.

According to one Swiss media report, the last such case in Switzerland dates back to 1997.

The source of the infection is unknown.

The following measures have been or will be applied: Quarantine, official disposal of carcasses, by-products and waste; vaccination and disinfection/disinfestation.

All persons who have had any contact with the infected animal have been informed and asked to contact their doctor.

LISTEN: Anthrax in animals: An interview with Dr. Buddy Faries

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by the sporeforming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax is most common in wild and domestic herbivores (eg, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes) but can also be seen in humans exposed to tissue from infected animals, contaminated animal products or directly to B anthracis spores under certain conditions.

Depending on the route of infection, host factors, and potentially strain-specific factors,anthrax can have several different clinical presentations. In herbivores, anthraxcommonly presents as an acute septicemia with a high fatality rate, often accompanied by hemorrhagic lymphadenitis.

B. anthracis spores can remain infective in soil for many years. During this time, they are a potential source of infection for grazing livestock. Grazing animals may become infected when they ingest sufficient quantities of these spores from the soil.In addition to direct transmission, biting flies may mechanically transmit B. anthracis spores from one animal to another.

People can get anthrax by handling contaminated animal or animal products, consuming undercooked meat of infected animals and more recently, intentional release of spores.