Nearly 130 bison found dead in suspected anthrax infection in Canada

The government of Canada's Northwest Territories recently warned people to stay away from the bodies of nearly 130 bison suspected of dying from anthrax infection.

The dead bison, located near Mills Lake northwest of Fort Providence, were discovered during a routine flight to monitor potential anthrax exposure in the territories. As a precaution, the N.W.T. Environment Department has activated its anthrax emergency response plans, according to

Tissue samples from the bison have been sent to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Laboratory in Lethbridge, Alberta, for testing.

The region where the bison were found is considered to only be accessible by boat this time of year, but there are cabins located in the vicinity, and residents have been asked to notify officials if additional carcasses are discovered.

Between 1962 and 2010, there were two documented outbreaks of anthrax in the Northwest Territories.

Wet weather followed by a hot, dry spell can concentrate anthrax spores in low-lying areas, increasing the chances for infection. Bison are thought to contract the disease most frequently by inhaling contaminated soil while taking dust baths, reports.

Once introduced into an area, anthrax spores can remain viable in the soil for many years. Humans can develop skin, respiratory or intestinal infections from contact with an infected animal.