Official enquiries in cattle.


Sudden death

If you have a cow that dies suddenly for no apparent cause it is important to contact the vet and discuss it due to the risk of the death being caused by anthrax.

This risk is very low, with anthrax being only rarely found.  However all sudden unexplained deaths are investigated by the government if they fit the risk factor criteria. To start with, a detailed history will be taken by the veterinary surgeon who will decide if they think there is a risk and if so contact the APHA (Animal & Plant Health Agency) and obtain permission for a visit to do an anthrax investigation.  The visit and the anthrax testing are free, however if any tests other than anthrax testing are requested these are charged at normal price and many cannot be done until the carcass has been certified clear of anthrax.  Full information on what to do can be found at under OV instructions - action on suspicion of disease - Anthrax.

Abortion enquiries

Great Britain is officially free of Brucellosis, a disease which can cause undulant fever in people and abortion, premature calvings and high levels of infertility in cattle.  Owners have a duty to report all abortions or premature calvings to the APHA within 24 hrs, whilst isolating the affected cow as much as possible from the rest of the herd.  The placenta/products from the calving should also be retained.  The number to call is the Defra Rural services helpline (03000200301) to report suspicion of disease.  The administrative staff will follow a flow chart of questions to determine if the animal requires testing.  For example dairy herds are regularly screened using bulk milk tests so any animal that has contributed to the bulk milk tank is unlikely to require testing.  The APHA will then issue your veterinarian with a case number and they will come out to perform the required investigation and sampling of the animal. Again the visit and brucellosis testing is paid for by the government, but should you request any further testing for different pathogens these can often be done at the same time but are charged at the normal price.


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