Vet urges vaccinations to stop spread of anthrax

CANADA - Livestock producers, especially those in flooded areas, are being urged to vaccinate against anthrax before sending their herds out to pasture.
calendar icon 17 March 2007
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Floods draw anthrax spores buried in the soil to the surface and spread them over large areas where cattle and other livestock graze, said Sandra Stephens, a veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), who spoke to delegates at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) meeting in Saskatoon on Thursday.

Municipalities that suffered crop damage due to flooding last year were the same areas hit by last year's unprecedented outbreak of the fatal bacterial infection, Stephens said.

Anthrax kills a few animals every year, but Saskatchewan producers were caught off guard when 153 premises were hit by the infection that killed 806 head. The greatest problem was in the northeast grain belt around Prince Albert, Melfort and Foam Lake.

"It spread so fast and so quickly. No one was sure what started it and how to stop it," said Gerald Holowaty, reeve of the RM of Foam Lake.

That area was flooded last spring and then received about 13 to 15 centimetres more rain in the fall, followed by heavy snowfall over the winter, said Foam Lake administrator Ron Kostiuk.

"It's going to create ongoing spore-creation conditions," he said.

"We had two producers who lost 20 head or more. Naturally they're going to be out vaccinating and so are their neighbours," Holowaty said.

Each of those hard-hit areas -- Prince Albert, Melfort and Foam Lake -- has already registered one case of anthrax this year, Stephens said.

Source: The Star Phoenix
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