Anthrax outbreaks to be mapped

Anthrax outbreaks will be mapped through a new MLA research project aimed at identifying methods to control and reduce the impact of the disease on livestock.

Dr. Jim Rothwell, MLA's manager of animal health and welfare, said that the project is meant to improve knowledge of how anthrax spread, improve diagnostics and prepare for future outbreaks, reports.

"Being able to predict an outbreak would allow producers to vaccinate their animals in advance, instead of reacting to a known outbreak. Improved tools will also be developed to allow fast and simple diagnosis on-farm, resulting in rapid response and reducing the impact should an outbreak occur," Rothwell said, according to "Animal deaths from the disease, associated production and market access issues, as well as the potential for human infection make vigilance important."

The Victorian Department of Primary Industries is conducting the project, which will create a database of different anthrax strains and map outbreaks. The maps are expected to aid in investigating the causes of outbreaks, which are not well understood at the moments.

Understanding climate change and natural disasters like flooding will also aid in predicting outbreaks.

Livestock owners are currently required to reported suspected anthrax cases to their local department of agriculture or primary industries office but are also being warned of the signs of anthrax infection.

"Livestock owners usually report unexplained, sudden deaths of livestock," the Victorian Department of Primary Industries said, reports. "Dark tarry discharges from the external orifices of dead animals are often, but not always, observed."