Another outbreak of deadly anthrax was reported today, in the Urals near Sverdlovsk, where an outbreak of the disease among cattle three years ago was reported to have led to human deaths.
The newspaper Sovyetskaya Rossiya said the new outbreak was confined to a collective farm in the Perm region, about 150 miles northwest of Sverdlovsk. It said only one cow died and no persons were infected. No date was given.
The report was unusual and apparently related to an embarrassment the Soviet Union suffered when the Sverdlovsk incident was first reported in the Western press nearly a year after it took place.
The United States said in 1980 that circumstantial evidence suggested that the agent in the Sverdlovsk accident was a highly potent bacteria that causes anthrax--and is almost always fatal to humans when inhaled. There were suggestions that such agents were being produced at Sverdlovsk and that the Soviet Union might be violating a 1975 pact banning toxic weapons. The Soviet government rejected suggestions that it was violating the agreement and dismissed Western speculation about a major accident at a plant said to produce bacteriological weapons in Sverdlovsk as a "fabrication" concocted to encourage U.S. production of such weapons. Although they rejected Western speculations of deaths among humans in 1980, the Soviets did acknowledge cattle deaths at Sverdlovsk.