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Anthrax

Anthrax

Anthrax is a bacterial disease that targets sheep, cattle and other hoofed herbivores (grass eating animals) like goats and horses. Occasionally anthrax infects humans.  Anthrax is a rare hazard for anyone who works with livestock or their by-products including farmers, abattoir workers, tanners and veterinarians.

Farmers and abattoir workers are more at risk than the general population. The cutaneous (skin) ulcer form is the only type recorded in Australia. There have been three cases affecting humans in the last decade, although sporadic outbreaks in animals occur every year or two.

Anthrax occurs mainly in the pastoral areas of NSW, Northern Victoria and Gippsland.

References used for this topic page

More information:

Department of Primary Industries (NSW)
Anthrax

Better Health Channel
Anthrax

Clinical care:

Centers for Disease Control (US)
Fact sheet: Anthrax information for health care providers 

Department of Health (Vic)
Guidelines for Infectious Diseases: Anthrax

NSW Health
Anthrax control guidelines

Research & reviews:

Cochrane Collaboration
Vaccines for preventing anthrax [PDF 455kb]

World Health Organization (WHO)
Anthrax

Fast facts:

Anthrax

  • Anthrax can occur in sheep and cattle and can occasionally be passed to humans.
  • Do not butcher or conduct a post mortem on any suspected animal cases as this will cause massive environmental exposure from anthrax spores.
  • If you suspect you have been exposed to an anthrax infected animal, seek veterinary and medical advice immediately.
  • In humans, Anthrax illness usually develops 2 to 7 days after exposure to the anthrax spores. It’s rare but can be fatal if not treated.

 

Last updated: 18th November, 2016