Farmer anthrax warning as two cattle die
07 September 2009 | Content provided to you by AAP.
MELBOURNE, Sept 7 AAP - Victoria's agricultural industry is working fervently to prevent an outbreak of anthrax after two cattle in the state's north died from the deadly bacteria in the past week.

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) vet Dr David Champness said the cattle died at two separate dairy farms at Stanhope and Tatura, in the Goulburn Valley.

The deaths have taken the industry by surprise as anthrax outbreaks are more common in the drier months, Dr Champness told AAP.

He said vaccinations against the bacteria were just getting underway in preparation for the warmer period when the two cases were discovered.

Dr Champness said the small outbreak was unusual at this time of year, but not unexpected given the history of anthrax in the Goulburn Valley.

The last major outbreak in the region in 2007 killed about 20 cattle across 10 properties, Dr Champness said.

He said an epidemiologist was being sent to the region to investigate the cases.

Cattle at the affected properties, as well as neighbouring farms, have now been quarantined and vaccinated at the expense of the DPI, Dr Champness said.

He encouraged other cattle farmers who noticed the sudden death of an animal to contact the DPI to investigate and deal with any infected carcasses.

Anthrax is a bacteria found in soil which, when the spores are injested by cattle, incubates for four to 10 days and can kill the animal in 12 to 24 hours once the infection takes hold.

While most anthrax spores disperse after three years, the bacteria can lie dormant for decades, Mr Champness said.

See about Anthrax as a disease that can cross from animals to people