Anthrax is a fatal condition in cattle, other mammals and a zoonosis (disease spread to man) caused by a spore forming bacterium (Bacillus anthracis). Before death no spores are formed but after death, especially on opening the carcass millions of spores are released. The bacteria do not survive in the environment easily, the spores are, however, very resistant and may remain viable for many years. The removal of carcasses is a large problem.
1 – 2 weeks but may even be shorter.
Often only acute death is seen; occasionally fever and tremors, convulsions, milk drop, abortion and bleeding are observed. Dead animals ooze blood and rigor mortis (“styfheid van dood”) does not usually occur. Putrefaction (“verotting”) is rapid.
By bloodsmear. It is essential that Anthrax is ruled out in cases of sudden death even when there is little cause for suspicion to avoid contaminating the environment unnecessarily.
In early stages antibiotics are effective. In cases of outbreaks antibiotics can be given and should be at hand for any animal showing any signs of illness.
Removal of carcasses is a large problem. The State Vet needs to be notified, the carcass left unopened and incineration is the disposal method of choice. Burying the carcass only leads to contamination of the soil.