Vaccinate now to protect livestock from anthrax

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services (LLS) have urged farmers to vaccinate cattle and sheep against anthrax, to prevent the disease which can kill livestock.

DPI senior veterinary officer, Graham Bailey, said anthrax is unpredictable and affected stock often show few or no signs of ill health before they die.

“Annual vaccination should be considered on high-risk properties as it can lie dormant in the soil for decades,” Dr Bailey said.

“High-risk properties include those where anthrax has been detected and nearby properties.

“In NSW, anthrax tends to occur in an area which runs through the centre of the state between Bourke and Moree in the north, to Albury and Deniliquin in the south.”

Farmers can contact LLS to obtain advice specific for their properties.

Preventing anthrax from occurring through vaccination breaks the cycle of spore production, reducing the risk of anthrax occurring in the future.

If vaccination is conducted on an annual basis, spores in the environment will die.

The last case of anthrax in NSW was detected in January 2020.

LLS Animal Biosecurity and Welfare business partner, Scott Ison, said the disease is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis.

“Farmers can apply to use the anthrax vaccine through their LLS district veterinarian and once authorised they can place an order for the vaccine with their local rural supplier or private veterinarian,” Dr Ison said.

“Farmers should suspect anthrax as the possible cause if animals die suddenly. There may be no signs and the disease can begin with sporadic deaths of single animals over a few days before building to dramatic losses in a very short time.”

Cases of sudden death in livestock are regularly investigated by LLS and private veterinarians and in most cases anthrax has been excluded as the cause.

Anthrax is listed as prohibited matter under the NSW Biosecurity Act and is a notifiable disease which must be reported immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline, 1800 675 888.

Information about preventing anthrax is available on the DPI website or from LLS, 1300 795 299.

Media: Bernadette York, NSW DPI, 0427 773 785.

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