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Anthrax Outbreak in the Melfort Area

Author: Neil Billinger-CJWW News

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CIFA) is investigating an anthrax outbreak in the Melfort area.

So far, there are only two positive cases in cattle. However, another 50-55 animals have died in the past four days. The cases are concentrated on farms within the Rural Municipalities of Kinistino and Willow Creek. The farms are within an area of 10 to 15 kilometres. 35 samples have been sent to the CFIA lab in Lethbridge to determine whether the animals died of anthrax. Results are expected Wednesday or Thursday.

Dr. Greg Douglas is a CFIA Veterinary Program Specialist. He says 600 head have been vaccinated for anthrax to prevent further spread of the disease. Additional vaccine is being shipped from the CFIA depot in Winnipeg. Horses, sheep and goats will also be vaccinated.

Anthrax is carried by spores, which can live in the soil for decades. The disease is not spread from animal to animal. Dr. Douglas says the spores were likely exposed by heavy rain and erosion over the last several weeks.

This could be the largest anthrax outbreak in Saskatchewan in recent memory. Last year in Manitoba, there was a cluster of 20 positive cases.

Dr. Douglas says farmers in the Melfort area should check their herds regularly and immediately report any suspicious deaths to the CFIA or their local veterinarian.