Producers warned as anthrax found in bison in northwest Saskatchewan

Anthrax has killed two bison and is suspected in seven other deaths

Saskatchewan Agriculture says anthrax has killed two bison and is suspected in seven other deaths.

The bison were found northwest of North Battleford.

Anthrax is caused by the bacteria bacillus anthracis, which can survive in spore form for decades in soil.

Spores can concentrate in sloughs and potholes, and risk of animal exposure to anthrax increases in drier years when these areas dry up and become accessible.

Livestock are infected when they eat forage contaminated with spores and they are found dead without any signs of illness.

Producers are advised to use caution when handling potentially infected animals or carcasses and carcasses of any animal suspected of having anthrax should not be moved and should be kept from scavengers such as ravens, to prevent the spread of spores.

Animal cases pose minimal risk to humans but people can get infected through direct contact with sick animals or carcasses. In cases where people believe they have been exposed to an infected animal, they should contact their local health authority or physician for advice.

Ruminants such as bison, cattle, sheep and goats, are highly susceptible, and horses can also be infected.

Swine, birds and carnivores are more resistant to infection, but farm dogs and cats should be kept away from carcasses.

Producers in regions that have experienced previous outbreaks are strongly encouraged to vaccinate their animals each year.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds