A Swan Hill farm riddled with the infectious bacterial disease, anthrax, sold infected sheep that were destined for three export abattoirs, Victoria's chief veterinary office has revealed.
"Basically this would have had a significant impact on trade," Mr Milne told The Guardian.
"We had to manually trace the sheep, because although we had introduced electronic identification, they were too old to have ID tags on them.
"Thankfully, we got to them before they went to the abattoirs.
"Finding these sheep was a top priority; we had to contact the saleyards, find out who bought them, who was transporting them and where they were in the transport chain."
Mr Milne said Agriculture Victoria was confident the outbreak of anthrax wouldn't increase beyond five confirmed properties.
"Obviously the way the animal becomes infected is through spores of this bacteria that survive in the soil and can live for decades, so what we do, which is recognised in Australia, is vaccinate affected premises for the next three years," Mr Milne said.
To read more of this story, grab a copy of Monday's Guardian (May 1).