An isolated case of anthrax disease in a cow has been confirmed at a farm in Wiltshire in the UK by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The case was identified yesterday (October 26) following the death of the cow.

Movement restrictions were imposed at the farm and the animal’s carcass was incinerated. No other animals have been affected.

The previous outbreak in livestock in Britain was in 2006, according to DEFRA.

Anthrax affects mammals and some species of birds, including cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and humans. It is a notifiable disease in Ireland and the UK.

Here’s how to spot anthrax in cattle and sheep according to DEFRA:

Cattle and sheep can die quickly from anthrax, but their carcasses may show no obvious signs of the disease.

The length of the illness varies and some animals may have signs of illness for several days before death.

In such cases the main clinical signs are:

  • High temperature, shivering or twitching.
  • Harsh dry coat.
  • Blood in dung or in nostrils.
  • Decrease or complete loss of milk.
  • Fits.
  • Bright staring eyes.
  • Colicky pains.
  • Dejection and loss of appetite.

Anthrax is spread when its spores are inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with skin lesions; the spores can survive for decades or even centuries.

They are found on infected animal carcasses, wool, hair and hides, DEFRA has stated.

Preventing anthrax

DEFRA advises farmers to talk to a vet before moving or disposing of carcasses after a sudden or unexplained death.

You can also help to prevent anthrax by practicing strict biosecurity on your premises, it said.