On July 12, 2012, anthrax was detected in a cattle herd in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.
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Anthrax outbreak in cattle herd in Germany
Livestock and Products
Kerstin Krueger, Jessica Loeser
On July 12, 2012, anthrax was detected in a cattle herd in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. According to the
German Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, eight animals died, all of which came from the
same herd. Local officials quarantined the affected area and relocated the herd. Anthrax was last
detected in Germany in 2009.
On July 12, 2012, anthrax, an infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects cloven-hoofed animals,
was detected in a cattle herd in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. According to the German Federal Research
Institute for Animal Health (Friedrich Loeffler Institute or FLI), eight animals died, all of which came
from the same herd. Local officials quarantined the affected area and relocated the remaining herd.
Officials suspect that feed was the source of infection and the affected pasture is being examined by
official epidemiologists. However, the source of the outbreak remains unclear. As a precaution, people
in contact with the infected herd were treated with antibiotics. So far, the outbreak of anthrax in Saxony-
Anhalt has little effect on the surrounding area and farms. None of the affected animals entered the food
chain. According to German human and animal health officials, the outbreak poses no exceptional
infection risk to other animals or to humans.
Anthrax is a notifiable infectious disease, meaning that German veterinarians are obliged to report to
officials when cases are suspected. The current outbreak was officially registered in the national Animal
Disease Reporting System, and will be listed in the Animal Health Report published by the Federal
Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). The Animal Health Report is an
official monthly notification by BMELV. In addition, at an international level, Germany should also
report anthrax outbreaks to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
According updates issues by local authorities on July 16 and 17, 2012 no further infections of cattle in
connection with the anthrax outbreak have been reported. However, the herd will be under observation
for two more weeks
Anthrax was last detected in Germany in the southern state of Bavaria in 2009.
The following is an unofficial translation of the press release issued by local authorities on July 12,
‘Ministry of Agriculture and Environment - Press Release No.: 087/2012 from July 12, 2012
Anthrax outbreak in cattle herd
Magdeburg. Anthrax was detected in a cattle herd in the district of Stendal, Saxony-Anhalt. So far,
seven animals perished due to this infectious disease. Today, the Federal Research Institute for Animal
Health, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI) in Jena, confirmed the diagnosis of the competent authorities
At least two of the dead animals, and possibly a third, ended up in the River Elbe, where police are
searching for them. Surrounding German States have accordingly been notified. The authorities ask
they immediately be informed if a dead animal is detected.
Anthrax in an infectious disease caused by a bacteria (Bacillus anthracis), which mainly infects cloven-
hoofed animals. However, humans can contract anthrax as well if exposed to a high dose of anthrax
spores. The authorities are investigating persons who might have been in contact with the infected
The animal health officials in Stendal immediately took all necessary measures, which included
quarantine on the affected cattle herd, trade bans, traffic restrictions and notification in the national
animal disease outbreak register.
The source of the outbreak remains unclear. Since anthrax spores can survive in the ground for decades,
authorities are examining whether the pastures might have formerly been used as an area used to bury
Background: The majorities of anthrax findings occur in areas with grassland and pasture farming. The
number of infections is likely to increase in years with high precipitation. Anthrax was last detected in
Bavaria, Germany in 2009.
With regard to the occurrence of anthrax in the wild and domesticated animals, as well as in humans,
differing degrees of susceptibility play a major role. For example, sheep, goats, cattle, horses, camels,
reindeers, elephants and mink are highly susceptible, while dogs, cats, rats and humans are moderately
A transmission from human to human is presumed to be very unlikely; and no case has ever been
Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, Saxony-Anhalt, 39112 Magdeburg, Germany