Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) in sheep
Bacillus Anthracis / Anthrax commonly affects hoofed animals such as sheep, cattle, and goats. … Cutaneous anthrax occurs when anthrax spores touch a cut or scrape on the skin. It is the most common type of anthrax infection. The main risk is contact with animal hides or hair, bone products, and wool, or with infected animals.
Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) in sheep – What causes it?
Anthrax is a naturally occurring disease with worldwide distribution. It is caused by Bacillus anthracis, a spore-forming bacteria that can remain alive, but dormant in the soil for many years. The bacteria can “bloom” and contaminate surface soil and grass after periods of wet, cool weather, followed by several weeks of hot, dry conditions.
Grazing animals–such as cattle, sheep, goats, exotic and domestic deer, and horses–ingest anthrax bacteria when they consume contaminated grass. By the time an animal displays signs of disease, including staggering, trembling, convulsions, or bleeding from body openings, death usually follows.
Domestic and wild swine are fairly resistant to anthrax and although they may become ill, some of these animals recover fully. Anthrax outbreaks depend on two factors working together: the presence of the spores in the soil…and suitable weather conditions. Outbreaks usually end when cool weather arrives and the bacteria becomes dormant.
Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) in sheep – Prevention
Infection is usually acquired through the ingestion of contaminated soil, fodder or compound feed. Anthrax spores in the soil are very resistant and can cause disease when ingested even years after an outbreak. The spores are brought to the surface by wet weather, or by deep tilling, and when ingested or inhaled by ruminants the disease reappears.
- Wear long sleeves and gloves when handling carcasses or when working with or vaccinating livestock to avoid contaminating any sores or scratches on your arms or hands. See your doctor if you develop an unusual-looking sore on your hands, arms or other exposed skin. Although it’s rare to contract skin anthrax, this infection requires treatment with antibiotics prescribed by a physician.
- Practice good sanitation. Wash your hands after handling livestock, even if you wear gloves. Disinfect livestock equipment used on the animals or carcasses. Keep pets and children away from carcasses or bones of dead animals. Move healthy animals away from a pasture where animals have died from anthrax.
- Properly dispose of animal carcasses by burning to prevent exposure to other animals, such as wildlife or dogs.
- Vaccinate livestock if cases occur in the surrounding areas. Anthrax vaccine is a “live” vaccine, so it must not be administered with antibiotics. Vaccinated animals must be withheld from slaughter for two months.
- Restrict the movement of livestock onto or from an affected premise until animals can develop immunity through vaccination (about 10 days).
Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) in sheep – Symptoms
Sudden death within 48 hrs. of illness of animal
Following death there is oozing of blood from the natural orifices.
Bloat may develop
Oedema may predominantly notice under the neck, brisket region, thorax, abdomen and flank.
Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) in sheep – Suggested first aid
The dead animal body should not be opened.
Should have consultation with nearest qualified veterinary doctor.
This disease should be brought under the notice of the regulatory officials in case of an outbreak.
Care should be taken to destroy the dead body by deep burial with quick lime.
Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) in sheep – Treatment
Due to the rapidity of the disease treatment is seldom possible, although high doses of penicillin have been effective in the later stages of some outbreaks.