Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by the spore forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Although anthrax is common in herbivores (e.g. cattle, sheep, and goats) and wild animals, humans can be exposed to tissue from infected animals, or directly to B anthracis spores under certain conditions. Most cases of anthrax in NSW occur in sheep and cattle within the geographical area known as the “anthrax belt”.
When anthrax is suspected, a post mortem should not be undertaken as it will cause the vegetative forms of Bacillus anthracis to sporulate. These spores will remain a source of infection for long periods.
Anthrax can have different clinical presentations depending on the route of infection, host factors, and strain-specific factors. Herbivores affected by anthrax commonly present with acute septicaemia with a high fatality rate, often accompanied by haemorrhagic lymphadenitis.
Signs of acute septicaemia include fever and hyperexcitability followed by depression, respiratory or cardiac distress, staggering, convulsions, and death. Animals can be found dead without signs of disease. There may be bloody discharges from the natural body orifices.
Diagnosis is strongly supported by history, clinical signs and the use of an Immunochromatographic test (ICT) in the field. Confirmation is by smear examination and PCR in the laboratory. If the ICT test is used, samples must still be submitted to the laboratory for confirmation.
ICT test kits can be ordered from the laboratory by contacting Customer Service.
Days of the week test is conducted
Clotted blood (red top tube), lithium heparin blood (green top tube), EDTA blood (purple top tube) or fresh tissue
Monday – Saturday2
Blood smear or fresh tissue
Monday – Saturday2
1 Turnaround times are provided as a guide only. For specific information about your submission please contact Customer Service.
2 Prior approval of delivery and testing on Saturday is required. Please contact Customer Service on 1800 675 623 to seek approval.