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FARMING

Anthrax outbreak: France begins vaccinating cows and sheep

The eastern French region of Hautes-Alpes said Monday it has begun vaccinating cows and sheep against anthrax after an outbreak of the fatal disease in the region.

Anthrax outbreak: France begins vaccinating cows and sheep
Illustration photo: AFP
Anthrax has been detected in 23 locations, local authorities said in a statement, with 54 animals killed, mainly bovines.
   
Vaccination doses for 5,000 cows and 10,000 sheep have been rushed to the area to tackle the worst anthrax outbreak in France in nearly 20 years.
 
More than 50 cows, sheep and horses have died in France's most serious outbreak of anthrax in two decades, according to officials who have warned of a vaccine shortage.
 
Authorities in the mountainous Hautes-Alpes region of southeastern France said the infection, which can spread to humans and is deadly in its rarest forms, had spread to 28 farms since June.
 
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Photo: AFP

Anthrax is transmitted by spores that can stay inactive in the ground for decades, including in the bodies of dead animals. 
   
French vets have been battling to contain the outbreak because the Spanish laboratory which produces the vaccines has been closed throughout August for the summer vacation.
   
“The state is in talks with its European partners to discuss the availability and purchase of vaccines” which other countries may have stockpiled, said senior regional official Agnes Chavanon Sunday.
 
Anthrax is an infection spread by spores of the Bacillus anthracis bacteria which occur naturally and can be ingested by livestock and passed on to humans, usually through skin contact, causing black lesions. If left untreated it can be fatal.  
 
Cases of anthrax being passed on to humans are “extremely rare”, said Christine Ortmans, a doctor with regional health agency ARS.
   
No one has been reported ill during the current outbreak, she stressed.
   
Cutaneous anthrax — which appears on the skin and is by far the most common form of the infection — is rarely deadly when treated with antibiotics.
 
But the bacteria which causes it, bacillus anthracis, produces a powerful toxin and has been used as a biological weapon.
   
Most notoriously a series of attacks using anthrax, delivered through the mail, terrorised the United States in 2001 a week after the carnage of September 11.
 
 
 
 

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FARMING

French hunter kills bear that bit him

A 70-year-old hunter killed a bear in southwest France Saturday after it attacked and seriously wounded him, local officials said.

A brown bear is pictured in the semi-wildlife animal park of Les Angles, southwestern France.
Brown bears had nearly disappeared in France until the country began a reintroduction programme, importing them from Slovenia. AFP PHOTO / RAYMOND ROIG

The female bear, who was travelling with her cubs, bit him as he was hunting in the Seix region of Ariege, a source close to the case said.

Rescued by the local gendarmerie, he was transported to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Toulouse with a wound to his leg at the level of his femoral artery, officials at the prefecture in Ariege said.

One source close to the case said he was in a serious condition.

The hunter told local officials he had been out with a group of other hunters on the trail of a boar, when the female bear, who was travelling with her cubs, attacked him.

After being wounded, the hunter shot the bear twice, killing it.

The local gendarme unit was called out to rescue him at around 3:30 pm (1430 GMT). They discovered the body of the bear a few metres from where they had found the hunter.

An investigation has been opened into the incident, the prefecture in Ariege said.

One local official told AFP on Saturday: “This is really what we feared.”

“Today, you can really see that cohabitation is complicated,” said Christine Tequi, president of the Ariege department council.

The brown bear had nearly disappeared in this part of the world when France began a programme of reintroducing them, importing them from Slovenia.

Today, there are around sixty of them in the Pyrenees range, leading to increasing tensions with local farmers, because of the threat they pose to their livestock.

In 2020, three bears were illegally killed in the Pyrenees: two of them in Spain and one in France. The French government has committed to replacing any bear killed by a man.

READ ALSO: The decades-old battle between French farmers and conservationists over bears
READ ALSO: What are the most dangerous animals in France?

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