08/30/2019 08:37 EDT

Anthrax Outbreak Kills Livestock In Saskatchewan

The most recent deadly cases were reported in 2015.

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Bales of hay are seen in southern Saskatchewan. Seven animals have died in the province due to an anthrax outbreak. 

REGINA — Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture says seven farm animals are dead due to anthrax.

The province says the case was confirmed in the RM of Golden West located approximately 140 kilometres southeast of Regina.

It says lab results from Thursday confirmed anthrax caused the sudden death of seven animals.

Dr. Betty Althouse, the ministry’s chief veterinary officer, says the animals were farmed livestock.

She says the last cases of animal anthrax that resulted in death occurred in 2015.

Watch: Canada has a growing problem with wild swine. Story continues below.  


Althouse says there have been a few other suspected cases of anthrax throughout the summer, but all of them turned out negative.

“We do suspect anthrax in the summer on pasture when there’s sudden deaths in animals. It is important to get a veterinary diagnosis to confirm whether it is or not, so this is the first case that was confirmed.”

Anthrax is caused by a bacteria that can survive for decades as spores in soil.

The province is warning farmers to be on the lookout for anthrax as changes in soil moisture from flooding or drying can cause spores to build up on pastures.

The ministry say animals are more at risk of being exposed to anthrax in drier years. 

Althouse says the livestock that died were grazing in a slough on a pasture.

She adds the veterinarian dealing with the herd is considering whether to relocate the rest of the animals off the contaminated pasture. A short-term treatment may also be needed.

The province says animal cases pose little risk to humans, but people can become infected through direct contact with sick animals or their carcasses.

Anthrax can be prevented through vaccination, Saskatchewan notes.

Althouse says couldn’t confirm whether or not the livestock that died were vaccinated.