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Anthrax risk in New Zealand very low - Ministry

Media Release

19 October 2001

Anthrax risk in New Zealand very low - Ministry

The chance of any New Zealander suffering health problems associated with anthrax is very low, the Ministry of Health said today.

Director of Public Health Colin Tukuitonga said the chance of any New Zealander contracting anthrax from bio-terrorism was far smaller than the risk posed by everyday events such as crossing the road or driving a car.

The Ministry of Health is in regular contact with international health agencies and other government departments to ensure it is aware of any emerging issues but at this stage there is no indication of any enhanced threat to New Zealand.

"Anthrax is not contagious and can be treated using standard antibiotics that are readily available in New Zealand.

"New Zealand has public health and emergency systems in place to deal with a health emergency if the situation arose."

Anthrax is a well-understood disease that occurs in animals and exists in many parts of the world.

Human infection with anthrax requires the direct contact or inhalation of large number of infective anthrax spores or bacteria.

There have been no recorded outbreaks of anthrax in New Zealand since a case in an animal in the 1950's.

Anne-Marie Robinson, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2067 or 025-802 622 http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

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