Turkey hit by new anthrax outbreak in southeast

A district in Turkey’s southeastern province of Bitlis have been quarantined after 81 cows died over a week because of anthrax, Cumhuriyet newspaper said on Thursday, citing a Milli Gazete report. 

All cattle in the Günkırı district in Bitlis have been vaccinated, and local authorities have said the animals in surrounding areas will also be vaccinated as a precaution against an outbreak.

Security forces have been checking cattle entering and leaving the district, and sales of meat and diary products have been banned. 

Dozens were taken to hospital on Saturday over suspicions of anthrax in Istanbul, after anthrax was detected in Turkey’s capital of Ankara and eastern province Sivas among cattle imported from Brazil. 

The Turkish Animal Rights Federation on Thursday claimed that a Panama flagged ship allegedly carrying anthrax infected animals has been waiting at the southern entrance of Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait. “We also received reports that animals dying of anthrax were thrown into Marmara Sea,” the animal rights group said on Twitter.

Ali Şeker, a deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has filed a parliamentary question asking the Minister of Agriculture to inform the public about the ship, which he said had been waiting at Istanbul’s Ahırkapı anchor point for 20 days and carried cattle bought from Brazil, Cumhuriyet reported on Thursday.

Meanwhile, reports of anthrax outbreaks in different parts of Turkey have created panic and outcry on social media.

“Help! Doesn’t this country have willpower? We are being poisoned,” Gokhan Özoğuz, the singer of the famous Turkish band Athena said on Twitter on Thursday. 

“Not just anyone would be able to add the fear of contracting anthrax when we eat meatballs for lunch to all our other day-to-day worries. I'd like to congratulate all those involved,” another Twitter user said.  

Binali Yıldırım, Turkey’s former Prime Minister and Parliamentary Spokesperson in office, asked the Minister of Health to taste the meat first during a reception in Turkish Parliament on Wednesday, Diken news site reported

Yet pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak on Tuesday said that some domestic producers, which it labelled as “meat barons”, were using the reports of anthrax outbreaks  to manipulate the market and increase prices.