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Two cattle die of anthrax in Sask.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed two more fatal cases of anthrax in cattle in two different communities in Saskatchewan.

The most recent case was confirmed Monday in the Rural Municipality of Big River, about 130 km northwest of Prince Albert. CFIA also confirmed a case on Saturday in the RM of Harris, about 80 km southwest of Saskatoon. Just one animal was involved in each case.

The two most recent cases bring the total number of anthrax deaths this spring and summer to 24, including 16 cattle and eight bison, over a total of five farms, all in different areas of Saskatchewan.

CFIA reiterated in its report that findings of anthrax in Western Canada are common and the spores which cause the disease are known to exist in soils across the Prairies.

Vaccination prevents anthrax in most animals, CFIA said, recommending that ranchers consult with veterinarians about making vaccinations part of regular herd-health maintenance.

All suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax must be reported to the CFIA, which recommends that as a precaution, producers should immediately notify their veterinarians of any sudden deaths in their herds.

When anthrax is confirmed, the CFIA quarantines affected premises during decontamination and disposal. Producers of livestock affected by anthrax may get compensation of between $100 and $500 per animal, depending on species, once CFIA confirms disease control actions are complete.

Human cases of anthrax poisoning are only rarely associated with outbreaks in animals, but producers still should not handle or move an animal’s carcass if anthrax is suspected, CFIA cautioned.

In 2007, anthrax was reported on 23 farms in Manitoba, six in Saskatchewan and four in Alberta.

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