Australian anthrax outbreak under control
Two properties in the northern portion of the state are still under quarantine as investigators continue to search for a cause of the outbreak that killed 37 cattle earlier in the month. The NSW Department of Primary Industries said there have been no further reports of infections on the property since mid-May, according to BeefCentral.com.
The carcasses of the dead cattle were burned to prevent further infection and the remaining cattle on the properties have been vaccinated.
Anthrax is considered to be among the world's most dangerous pathogens for use in biological weapons, but outbreaks of the illness, especially among hoofed animals, occur naturally. The infection is caused by bacterium spores that can lay dormant in soil for years.
Julain Rood is a professor of Microbiology in the Department of Microbiology at Monash University who has studied anthrax. He says outbreaks are an occasional occurrence every few years.
"So, you can have an outbreak of disease, the spores can enter the soil and then many, many years later the spores can infect another animal and make that animal sick," Rood said, BeefCentral.com reports. "That is usually the major mechanism of spread in cattle, the animals pick up the spores from the soil."
In Australia, most outbreaks occur within Gippsland region of eastern Victoria and in northern Victoria through grazing land into New South Wales, a region sometimes called the anthrax belt.