Anthrax fears halt construction of British housing development

Anthrax fears helped to end a plan to build 80 new homes on an undeveloped parcel of land in Shavington, United Kingdom.

Wain Homes Developments had to cancel its plans after they were thrown out by Cheshire East Council's strategic planning board, who feared the land could contain the carcasses of cows killed by the deadly disease, according to

"There's contaminated land there," Shavington First Councilor David Brickhill said, reports. "We believe there are dead cattle buried and a risk of anthrax. We have got to refuse it for that reason alone."

Anthrax spores can remain potentially deadly for decades after cattle have died from the disease. The bacterium Bacillus anthracis forms the outer coating to protect itself from harsh conditions that would normally kill bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The tiny spores of the infectious pathogen are known to be able to survive drought, bitter cold and other harsh conditions for decades, yet still be able to germinate almost instantly to infect and kill once inside an animal or human host.

Because of their resilience and lethality, anthrax spores are considered a potential bioterrorist weapon. In 2001, Bacillus anthracis spores were intentionally distributed through the United States postal system. Five people died as a result of anthrax infection.