Bison anthrax outbreak in N.W.T. lowlands
Last Updated: Thursday, July 1, 2010 | 1:14 PM CST
Government wildlife teams in the Northwest Territories are working to control an anthrax outbreak about 80 kilometres southeast of Fort Resolution, south of Yellowknife.
Seven bison carcasses in the Slave River Lowlands have tested positive for the disease. They were spotted within an eight-kilometre area during a June 23 surveillance flight.
There are about 600 bison in the area, according to officials.
"We'll have regular surveillance flights to look for any additional cases. The trick is to find carcasses as quickly as possible," Brett Elkin, a disease specialist with the N.W.T. Environment and Natural Resources Department told CBC News.
"They're immediately disinfected with a chemical disinfectant called formaldehyde ... it keeps other animals from scavenging, and it cleans off the surface and kills all the spores. And then a second crew will come in later and burn each carcass, basically incinerate it so there's nothing left."
Elkin said disposal crews wear protective suits and are careful not to touch the carcasses.
No humans have contracted anthrax in the Northwest Territories, and the area in question has been closed to the public.
The area is only accessible by boat and ATV at this time of year, the department said.
Fourteen other anthrax outbreaks in the Slave River Lowlands and Wood Buffalo National Park were reported between 1962 and 2007.
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