Swan Hill anthrax outbreak

Andrew Miller
By Andrew Miller
February 24 2022 - 10:00pm
ANTHRAX OUTBREAK: Anthrax has been identified as the likely cause of death in five sheep on a Swan Hill property.

Agriculture Victoria veterinarians and animal health staff are responding to the detection of anthrax in a small number of sheep on a property near Swan Hill.

Anthrax has been identified as the likely cause of death in five sheep on the property, which has been quarantined.



Victoria's chief veterinary officer Dr Graeme Cooke said thanks to the farmer's early reporting, the necessary steps to reduce the likelihood of the detection having an impact on more livestock had been put in place.

At-risk livestock were being vaccinated.

"Anthrax is caused by a naturally occurring bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, that is known to be present for long periods in the soil in parts of northern and North-West Victoria," Dr Cooke said.

"It is not unusual for incidents of anthrax to be detected in cattle and sheep in the region during the warmer months when it is drier and cattle and sheep forage deeper into the soil when grazing.

"Quarantine controls that were put in place will not affect the movement of any local people or vehicles."

Anthrax is not a concern for the general public:

  • . Anthrax does not spread rapidly and is not very contagious
  • . There is little 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.

Dr Cooke said while incidents commonly occur during the warmer months when it was drier, cases of anthrax had occurred, and might occur, at any time of year so continued vigilance was required.

Local farmers, veterinarians and Agriculture Victoria were well prepared to handle these incidents that occur from time to time, he said.

"This includes pre-emptively vaccinating stock each year and if there is a detection, the implementation of strict quarantine and biosecurity arrangements, the vaccination of potentially exposed stock and the destruction of the carcasses of affected animals."

Agriculture Victoria veterinarians and animal health officers are currently working closely with livestock owners and veterinarians in the region to ensure they are aware of the signs of disease and appropriate actions to take if they are concerned.

Farmers are urged to report any cases of unexplained deaths to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

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Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller


I'm a general reporter with Stock & Land, with a special interest in irrigation issues. I completed my cadetship, with the Age, in 1980. Over my career, I've worked for ABC radio news (Mt Isa, Qld) and at provincial and suburban newspapers.

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