Anthrax outbreak kills cattle on Victorian property

Anthrax has caused the deaths of five cattle on a property in northern Victoria.

A beef property northeast of Shepparton was quarantined late last week and the remaining cattle have undergone vaccinations against the disease.

The cases have so far been limited to one property and neighbouring land owners have been informed.

Victoria's chief veterinary officer Graeme Cooke said early reporting allowed swift action to be taken to reduce the likelihood of the detection impacting more livestock.

"Anthrax is caused by a naturally occurring bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, that is known to be present in the soil in parts of Victoria," Dr Cooke said.

"Incidents of anthrax detected in cattle and sheep in the region occur during the warmer months when it is drier and cattle and sheep forage deeper into the soil when grazing."

Anthrax is caused by a spore-forming bacterial disease that produces toxins causing fever, lack of appetite, lethargy or sudden death in animals.

It can affect humans in rare cases, with risks confined to people who handle dead livestock.

The disease usually appears in the warmer months but outbreaks can occur at any time of year, and in places it has not been detected for years. 

The outbreak poses no public health risk, Agriculture Victoria said in a statement, and local produce and food safety are not impacted.

Farmers who note any sudden livestock deaths have been warned not to move the carcasses and report to local Agriculture Victoria staff or the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

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