At least nine cows have died as a result of an outbreak of anthrax in eastern Germany. The corpse of one animal was dragged from the River Elbe.
The State Office for Consumer Protection in Stendal confirmed anthrax had been diagnosed amongst a herd of 50 cows in the Stendal area, N.L. Associates reported. Coast guards are searching for other infected carcases which may have fallen into the river.
Fifty people who may have been in contact with the cows prior to the diagnosis of anthrax, have been prescribed with antibiotics. The exact cause of the outbreak has yet to be determined.
According to the Local Heinrich Neubaue, head of the institute for bacterial infection and zoonotic diseases at the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute, said the most likely cause was cattle grazing on land where animals with anthrax have been buried. An investigation is to be launched on Monday to determine if the affected cow herd grazed where animals infected with anthrax had been buried.
Anthrax can be fatal for both animals and humans. The spores of dead animals can remain infectious and the majority of cases are linked back to areas of burial of infected corpses.