Sweden to investigate anthrax cattle deaths dating back to 1916

An outbreak of anthrax at a farm in central Sweden that led to the death of 19 cows has prompted veterinary officials to investigate where diseased cows were buried from as far back as 1916.
According to the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the cows died from anthrax at a farm in Örebro county last week. The remains of the animals have been analyzed by the National Veterinary Institute, which announced on Sunday that anthrax was responsible, The Local reports.
Health officials believe that the cows had been infected from dormant spores that came to the surface after excavation work.
“In the air, the spores disappear, but in the ground they are more resistant," Lena Hult, a veterinarian at the Swedish Board of Agriculture, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, The Local reports. "There they can lie for perhaps 50 or 100 years,”
In the 1950s, cows that died from anthrax in Sweden were simply buried on the farms where they died, which means the disease could lay beneath the surface at many locations across the country. To reduce the risk of additional outbreaks caused by excavation or building projects, the SVA is looking through its records dating back to 1916 to learn which farms have been affected by anthrax in the past.
“After 1937, there was no reporting requirement, so it’s going to be harder to find affected farms,” Bodil Persson, a doctor and historian who has been hired by SVA to carry out the investigation, according to The Local.
The last documented case of an anthrax infection among livestock in Sweden was in 2008 at a farm in Halland county in western Sweden.