The dreaded disease anthrax has struck in the Golan Heights, killing a number of cattle in an area frequented by many humans, not only animals, Globes reports.
Evidence of anthrax was discovered by Veterinary Services agents in 15 cows that died of an initially unknown cause a few weeks ago. Subsequently, the deadly bacillus was found in other dead cows.
The lands where the anthrax was found are also used by IDF soldiers and tourists, and include water courses such as Nahal El Al that flow into the Kinneret, reservoirs and fish pools.
Anthrax experts say that the area is likely infected with the bacillus and that precautions must be taken, including bacteriological tests of the soil and water. In the meantime, since anthrax can also infect and kill humans, they advise against sleeping in the field or walking during dust storms.
The Ministry of Agriculture said that to date, no human deaths from anthrax have ever been reported in Israel, though animals have been infected periodically.
Anthrax can survive in a dormant state in the ground for decades. It infects animals and people by skin contact and can cause large lesions, or through the digestive tract, such as when cattle eat grass with infected roots. It can also be transmitted through inhalation.
The Ministry of Agriculture said, “Upon receiving the report about the cattle deaths, and on the basis of the clinical description, anthrax was suspected, samples were taken to the laboratory, and the bacillus was identified. When the results were received, we notified the Veterinary Services and the Ministry of Health offices in Teveriah and Tzefas, as well as the IDF.”
Vaccinating cattle in the Golan may be necessary.
“The Veterinary Services are treating cattle in the area. The herd [known to be infected] has been vaccinated, and sources of contamination, such as the area where the infected cadavers were found, have been disinfected to kill the bacillus.”