Authorities in the Swiss canton of Jura have identified a case of anthrax in a cow that died suddenly. The last such case in Switzerland dates back to 1997.
The cantonal authorities have cordoned off the farm and the pasture where the infected cow was found dead last week in northwestern Switzerland. All persons who have had any contact with the infected animal have been informed and asked to contact their doctor. The last Swiss case was documented in canton Schwyz in 1997 and canton Jura last reported an infection in 1993. Jura veterinary and public health officials are working closely together to monitor any other cases.
Anthrax is caused by a bacterium called Bacillus anthracis, which survives in the environment by forming spores. Cattle get infected by consuming spores from water or fodder contaminated by the faeces or blood of infected animals.
Anthrax can spread from animals to humans, and those working with animals or animal products are most at risk. The most common form of the disease is skin anthrax, when spores enter the skin through cuts or abrasions and cause a black sore.