Farmer's two-day wait for anthrax antibiotic

A FARMER whose cattle were at the centre of an anthrax scare said yesterday
that he and other workers had to wait too long for antibiotic treatment.

Ewan Campbell, 55, says he did not receive medical treatment until two days
after coming into direct contact with a cow which died from the disease.

The problems began last Friday, when Mr Campbell’s 31-year-old son, also
called Ewan, discovered the animal at Balcorrach Farm, near Lennoxtown, East

The Campbells and three health workers then manoeuvred the animal into a van
before it was taken away to be incinerated.

However, they did not receive treatment until Sunday evening.

Mr Campbell said: "It was a bit of a shock to find out the cow had died from

"We phoned our vet who took a blood sample, which is a standard precaution
for a sudden death.

"He phoned me back two hours later to say he had found anthrax spores and
had contacted the government vet," the farmer added.

"We loaded the cow on to a van to be burned and we razed the ground around
where it had fallen. It was not until the next day that we were told to
contact medical authorities to get antibiotics because we had touched it. I
was in very close contact with it."

The cow is believed to have contracted the disease by eating grass
contaminated with soil-borne microscopic spores.

There are usually about five cases of cattle dying from the disease every
year in the UK. However, this is thought to be the first incident of the
illness in Scotland since an outbreak in North Lanarkshire in 1997.

Anthrax is caused by the bacterium bacillus anthracis and causes a sudden
rise in body temperature in animals, as well as staggering, respiratory
distress, convulsions and, ultimately, death.

Although the disease is not contagious, humans can contract it through
airborne spores or though skin.

If contracted in humans it may develop localised swelling and lesions or, if
the bacterial spores are breathed in, pneumonia.

Yesterday, a ban still remained on animals being moved from the premises
while the farm was disinfected.

The area around the enclosure, in the Campsie Fells, had already been
cordoned off by police on Sunday.

Council officials said yesterday there was no danger to public health, but
admitted those who touched the infected cow could be at risk.

David McLavin, a spokesman for East Dunbartonshire Council, said: "The
public are not at risk.

"Only those who came into direct contact with the animal would have been
exposed to anthrax spores.

"Those who did handle the animal have been placed on antibiotics as a matter
of precaution.

"While not common, anthrax does occur around sheep and cattle," he added.
"It is in no way as sinister as the purified form used following the
terrorist attacks in the United States, and there is no cause for alarm."

Forth Valley Health Board, who administered the antibiotics, were not
available for comment last night.