Anthrax killed a herd of cattle at Moshav Nov on the Golan Heights a few weeks ago. After 15 cattle died of an unknown cause, the Veterinary Services, autopsied other dead cows and discovered Anthrax in them.
Anthrax can survive in a dormant state for decades in the ground. It infects animals and people through a variety of ways, by skin contact, which can cause large lesions; through the digestive tract, such as when cattle eat grass with infected roots; and, more lethally, if not diagnosed and treated, through inhalation.
The pastures where the Anthrax was found are used by IDF soldiers, and include popular tourist sites, and rivers, such as Nahal El Al, that flow into the Kinneret, as well as reservoirs and fish pools.
Anthrax experts told "Globes" that the area is suspected of being infected with the bacillus, and that cautionary steps should be taken, including bacteriological tests of the soil and water. They advise against sleeping in the field or walking during dust storms. Vaccinating cattle on the Golan should also be considered.
The Ministry of Agriculture said, "Upon receiving the report about the cattle deaths, and on the basis of the clinical description, Anthrax was suspected, samples were taken to the laboratory, and the bacillus was identified. When the results were received, we notified the Veterinary Services and the Ministry of Health offices in Tiberias and Safed, as well as the IDF.
"The Veterinary Services are treating cattle in the area. The herd has been vaccinated, cadavers have been removed while taking the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the bacillus, and sources of contamination, such as the area where the infected cadavers were found. These areas have been disinfected to kill the bacillus."
"The preventative measures taken by the ministry to prevent the spread of the disease, the infected herd will be vaccinated from now and for a decade. The ministry is also conducted an epidemiology study, which took additional samples from the environs, and has been in talks with the herd's owners, in order to prevent the spread of the disease to other cattle.
"The Ministry of Agriculture's actions have proven themselves in the field, evidence of which is the case of Anthrax discovered a year ago at Moshav Keshet, which was caught and there were no additional cases in the herd. Cases of Anthrax in animals in Israel are very rare."
The ministry added, "Anthrax is periodically reported in cattle in Israel, and has only infected animals. Every case of the disease in cattle is treated by the Ministry of Agriculture to prevent its spread to other animals and the environment. The disease is not transferred from cattle to people as is seen in that, despite the morbidity in cattle, there have been no cases of morbidity in people in Israel."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 13, 2013
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