Anthrax poisoning kills hundreds of sheep at a property near Nyngan

POISONED: Hundreds of sheep have died from anthrax poisoning in the Central West. File picture: Kelly Butterworth
POISONED: Hundreds of sheep have died from anthrax poisoning in the Central West. File picture: Kelly Butterworth

Almost 350 sheep have been died from anthrax poisoning at a property near Nyngan. 

The NSW Department of Primary Industries confirmed biosecurity measures have been put in place on a Central West property after a large number of livestock deaths.

These included restricted animal movements, vaccination of stock, carcase disposal and decontamination.

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease, caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis (a soil-borne disturbance) that strikes suddenly and can affect sheep, cattle, horses, pigs and many other animals.

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A spokesperson from the NSW Department of Primary Industries said hot and dry conditions favour the development of anthrax, and with the drought covering NSW the conditions for infection are ideal. 

“There is an increased risk of anthrax when feed is short and animals are grazing close to the ground,” the spokesperson said. 

“Anthrax occurs sporadically in NSW, usually in the central “anthrax belt”, which runs through the centre of the state and into Victoria,” the spokesperson said. 

Recent research identified the ‘anthrax belt’, previously from Moree and Walgett to the Victorian border from Corowa to Deniliquin, had expanded further north into central southern Queensland. 

 Anthrax distribution in Australia from Barro AS, Fegan M, Moloney B, Porter K, Muller J, Warner S, et al. (2016).

Anthrax distribution in Australia from Barro AS, Fegan M, Moloney B, Porter K, Muller J, Warner S, et al. (2016).

The deaths come after a number of major outbreaks in southern Queensland recently, with 120 head of cattle killed from a soil disturbance in March 2017 and another 30 sporadic deaths from October 2017 to January 2018. 

In 2013, dozens of cattle were killed on two properties near Moree. 

The spokesperson said vaccination is often used to protect livestock from infection in NSW and that the DPI strongly recommends an annual vaccination of cattle and sheep on properties with a history of anthrax. 

“Central West Local Land Services are managing the situation in conjunction with the landholder,” the spokesperson said. 

“It is strongly recommended that all livestock be vaccinated annually against anthrax,” they said. 

The NSW DPI said that if you suspect an animal has died of anthrax, report it immediately, don’t handle or move open skin or the carcas and keep other animals away. 

“Anthrax is a notifiable animal disease under the Biosecurity Act 2015,” the spokesperson said. 

Any suspected cases should be reported to Local Land Service on 1300 795 299 or DPI on 1800 675 888.

This story Hundreds of sheep killed by anthrax near Nyngan first appeared on Nyngan Observer.