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Five people in Hungary monitored for suspected anthrax infection

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - An infection of deadly anthrax has been identified in beef in eastern Hungary and five people are being monitored in hospital for suspected symptoms of the disease, the health authority ANTSZ said on Friday.

It said the disease was identified in frozen beef after two cattle were illegally slaughtered in a farm in Tiszafured, a town about 160 km east of Budapest.

The ANTSZ said the five people hospitalized had probably contracted the disease during illegal slaughtering. Some of the beef had been transported to a company that operates canteens, and the operation of the firm had been suspended. The authority said anthrax, if identified in time, can be cured effectively with antibiotics. It is trying to find out if more people came into contact with the infected animals or meat.

The health authority said it had started the vaccination of animals that could be potentially exposed to anthrax bacteria.

"Authorities have taken the necessary measures, so there is no longer an immediate danger," the statement said.

But it said the food safety office would report the matter to police for purposes of a criminal investigation since the canteen firm had bought meat from illegal sources.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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