Anthrax found in Swan Hill sheep

By Country News

Agriculture Victoria has responded to a confirmed incident of anthrax in sheep on a single property near Swan Hill.

Victorian acting chief veterinary officer Cameron Bell said quarantine notices had been put in place until the necessary biosecurity requirements, including carcase disposal and site disinfection, were completed.

He said the case was on a farm with a history of anthrax and at-risk stock on the property were vaccinated.

‘‘Anthrax detections in livestock occur in Victoria from time to time,’’ Dr Bell said.

‘‘They commonly occur during the warmer months when it is drier and cattle and sheep forage deeper into the soil when grazing.

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

The isolated case was detected as part of ongoing surveillance for anthrax and other livestock diseases.

‘‘We are taking the necessary steps to reduce the chance of more livestock being affected,’’ Dr Bell said.

Anthrax is caused by a naturally occurring bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, that is known to be present in the soil in parts of northern Victoria.

Agriculture Victoria said anthrax was not a concern for the public as it does not spread rapidly and is not contagious, with any risk confined to people who handle dead livestock such as farmers, veterinarians and knackery workers.

■Farmers are urged to report any cases of unexplained livestock 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.

■People exposed or potentially exposed to anthrax should phone the Communicable Disease Hotline on 1300 651 160.