This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted with permission.

Anthrax is a soil-borne disease that occurs sporadically in western Canada, especially after floods or during hot, dry weather. Ask your veterinarian whether vaccination is recommended.

Anthrax is a reportable disease in Canada. If anthrax is suspected,

  • DO notify your veterinarian
  • DO remove surviving animals from the pasture
  • DO try to prevent scavenging
  • DO NOT move dead animals
  • DO NOT call for deadstock pick-up
  • DO follow the veterinarian’s instructions regarding deadstock disposal

Continue reading

Changes to the CFIA anthrax program

This is a guest post written by Karin Schmid, Beef Production Specialist with the Alberta Beef Producers

Anthrax is a rapid, fatal disease caused by bacteria (Bacillus anthracis) that exist as inactive spores in the soil and can remain dormant for many years.  Animals contract the disease when they consume infected soil, feed or water and spores become active within the animal, causing death within hours.

Initial symptoms include weakness, fever, and excitability, followed by depression, difficulty breathing, lack of coordination and convulsions.  There may also be a bloody discharge, which can further contaminate the soil.  However, due to the rapid progression of the disease, death is often the first sign. Continue reading

E. coli O157:H7: an Industry Research Priority

E. coli O157:H7, the cause for the recent, extensive beef recall, is one of the few types of E. coli that is dangerous to humans.  It is shed in the feces of many warm-blooded animals, including deer, geese, dogs and cattle. E. coli O157:H7 is harmless to most animals but can be dangerous to humans if contaminated water or undercooked meat is consumed, especially to those with an immature or weakened immune system.  Beef can become contaminated by cattle hides and equipment during slaughter and processing or by food handlers in the retail sector.

Potentially dangerous pathogens are uncommon in beef, which is due in large part to the industry focus on combatting E. coli O157:H7. Continue reading

Broken Needles in Beef: Prevention and Responsibility

Suspected broken needles are rare, but imagine the food safety risk if a broken needle

were to end up in a meat product, and potential harm to the industry’s reputation.  As a producer, it is very important to take steps to prevent needles from breaking, and to know what to do if a broken needle is suspected.

The following advice is courtesy of the Verified Beef ProductionTM (VBP) program. Continue reading