Meat & Livestock News

NSW Urges Vaccination Against Anthrax in Livestock Amid High-Risk Area Concerns

Cows in the stable inside the fence for the production of meat

In New South Wales (NSW), livestock producers managing properties in regions historically affected by anthrax are being urged to vaccinate their cattle and sheep. This reminder comes from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services (LLS), particularly targeting areas from Bourke and Moree in the north to Albury and Deniliquin in the south.

The call for vaccination is especially relevant for properties in proximity to locations where anthrax has been previously detected, given the disease’s severity and the suddenness with which it can affect the stock of any age or class.

Elizabeth Braddon, NSW DPI Animal Biosecurity Manager, emphasised the unpredictable nature of anthrax, which can remain dormant in soil for decades. She advised farmers to seek property-specific guidance from their LLS district veterinarian, highlighting that vaccination not only prevents outbreaks but also disrupts the cycle of spore production in the environment.

Continued vaccination over time is expected to lead to the death of existing spores, thereby reducing future anthrax risks.

Anthrax holds a critical status under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, being listed as a prohibited matter and a notifiable disease in the state. Prompt reporting of any suspected cases is mandatory and should be done through the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline.

Emily Stearman, LLS Acting Business Partner for Animal Biosecurity & Welfare, noted that anthrax is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Affected livestock often exhibit minimal or no symptoms before succumbing to the disease.

Farmers seeking to vaccinate their animals can apply through their LLS district veterinarian. Upon authorisation, they can then order the vaccine from local rural suppliers or private veterinarians.

Dr Stearman also cautioned farmers to be vigilant, especially if animals die suddenly. Anthrax can initially present with sporadic, singular animal deaths over a few days, potentially escalating to substantial losses in a very short period.