THREE years of regular flooding could have taken a deadly toll on two anthrax-affected properties near Moree, a senior vet says.
North West Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA) senior district veterinarian Shaun Slattery says environmental conditions could be behind the anthrax outbreak near Moree.
He said the killer disease was first detected on February 22 and the last death was recorded on March 14.
That means the two properties in Moree’s Watercourse area could remain quarantined for at least a further three weeks.
Mr Slattery said the properties would be quarantined for up to 42 days after vaccination or 20 days after the last recorded death on the property.
Since the initial notification in mid-February about 70 landholders have been advised to vaccinate their cattle.
But Mr Slattery is confident the situation is in hand and more deaths will not eventuate.
Mr Slattery told Fairfax Regional Media a landholder mustering on his property found cattle carcasses and notified the authority.
The cause of death was immediately identifiable thanks to mobile testing equipment.
The vet believes regular flooding of the land over the past three years could be responsible for the uncovering of anthrax spores.
The same environmental conditions at a neighbouring property prompted the landholder to call in authorities and more carcasses were found.
“Both owners have been fantastic with their co-operation,” Mr Slattery said.
“In the midst of rain and a good flush in the river, it makes life more difficult.”
An aerial check for more dead cattle over neighbouring properties was made but at this stage, he said, it appears the outbreak has been contained.
“It’s a really good example of something that was once common in inland NSW and killed thousands of animals, but now we’ve been through the process of diagnosing it quickly and burning the carcasses, we’ve reduced it and now it’s a rare disease.”
Mr Slattery said there had been other anthrax outbreaks in Moree, including a major incident in 1973.
Meanwhile, NSW DPI chief veterinary officer Ian Roth has advised landholders in the area to act quickly if they see dead animals.
“If you see animals that have died suddenly get the vet out from the LHPA and get them checked out,” Mr Roth said.
Anyone dealing with affected animals should also take precautions and if they notice skin lesions should visit their GP.