Anthrax confirmation in sheep at Swan Hill

In November 2018, anthrax was confirmed as the cause of death of sheep on a property north-west of Swan Hill. The property was in proximity to the properties confirmed infected with anthrax in sheep in March 2017.

The owner of the property rang the Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) hotline after a number of sheep were found dead. Agriculture Victoria staff that were on weekend standby immediately attended the property and found 30 to 40 sheep that had died over the preceding week.

An anthrax immunochromatographic test (ICT) conducted in the field was positive. The property was immediately placed in quarantine and samples forwarded to the state veterinary laboratory, AgriBio, Bundoora for confirmatory testing. The ICT results were confirmed by culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay.

Agriculture Victoria staff undertook tracing to identify other properties that may be at risk and began a program of anthrax vaccination of at-risk livestock, decontamination and incineration of carcasses.

At the time of publication, no further Victorian properties have been identified with anthrax.

The ICT kit has proved to be a reliable method for the rapid determination of the anthrax status of cattle and sheep that have died suddenly. While the test kit has been validated for use in cattle, similar work is required in sheep. Agriculture Victoria is managing a study to formally validate the ICT kit when used in sheep.

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Page last updated: 04 Mar 2024