More bison found dead in possible Canadian anthrax outbreak

Twenty-three additional bison were found dead near Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, Canada, as a result of a suspected anthrax outbreak.

The territorial government warned people to stay away from 128 bison carcasses found last week at Mills Lake during a routine anthrax monitoring flight. Several of the new carcasses were found near Caen Lake, the Canadian Press reports.

Some of the carcasses were burned over the weekend by disposal teams following natural resource and environmental procedures.

Anthrax has yet to be confirmed because lab results from the Mills Lake carcass samples are not expected to arrive from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency until next week. Officials are planning an additional reconnaissance flight of the area on Wednesday to search for any other animal victims.

The N.W.T. Environmental Department has put its anthrax emergency response plan into effect as a precautionary measure. Anyone who finds a carcass is requested to notify health officials, according to the Canadian Press.

Anthrax is caused by a bacteria that can leave spores in the soil that are viable for a long time. Wet weather followed by a hot, dry spell, can allow the spores to become concentrated in low-lying areas. Bison can contract the disease by inhaling contaminated soil when wallowing in dust baths. Humans can develop intestinal, respiratory or skin infections if they contract anthrax from infected animals. The disease is potentially fatal but can be controlled if quickly treated with antibiotics.

Outbreaks of anthrax have only been documented twice in the Northwest Territories between 1962 and 2010.