The Welsh Assembly has confirmed that two out of five cows that died this month on a beef farm in Glamorgan had anthrax

The disease was detected by routine blood tests carried out following sudden cattle deaths, and the positive results are the first in Britain since 2002.

Veterinary officials reported that anthrax was found 35 years ago on the same unnamed farm at Rhondda Cynon Taff.

A spokesperson said: “Under certain environmental conditions, anthrax spores may persist for many years. Full epidemiological investigations are being carried out to see if the present outbreak is related to the previous one.”

The cows with confirmed anthrax had been burned on site and their ashes disposed of in secure conditions in accordance with the Anthrax Order 1991.

Carcasses of other cattle that died had also been destroyed after informing incineration site staff about health and safety precautions.

Dr Chrisianne Glossop, chief veterinary officer for Wales, insisted that no animals from the farm had entered the food chain for a year, and that the quick action taken ensured that there was no threat to the public, farmers or other cattle in the area.

Gareth Vaughan, Farmers Union of Wales president, said the public should be reassured that incident had been dealt with swiftly and effectively.

“There is absolutely no threat to human health and no need for the public to panic,” Mr Vaughan claimed.