26 October 2001
Vets start anthrax tests on livestock

By FWi staff

GOVERNMENT officials have started testing dead livestock for anthrax in a tightening of procedures after outbreaks of the disease in the USA.

Farmer Peter Walton was shocked when the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told him not to touch or move a cow found dead on his Northumberland farm.

The cow was tested for anthrax before a licence was issued for collection.

Mr Walton said: “I rang in only to see if I needed a vets certificate, but I was told to ring my own vet and stay away from the carcass.”

Iain Carrington, a local vet from Hexham, confirmed that government officials were stepping up anthrax tests on livestock.

“All unexplained sudden deaths should have an anthrax investigation.

“Over the years many farmers have forgotten this and these carcasses were frequently collected by the hunt kennels.”

There have been no anthrax cases in Britain since 1997.

But the government believes animals could act as an early warning system for any attacks on humans which have a longer incubation period.

Defra said incidents were isolated and the aim was to contain and control the disease.

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