Outbreak of anthrax traced to novice farmer with good Fidesz connections

July 8, 2014



Anthrax traced to novice farmer reportedly connected to Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga (left) and Minister for Agriculture Sándor Fazekas (right).

Details have emerged on József Nagy, the owner of a cattle farm where an outbreak of anthrax occurred last week. The infected beef was delivered to a company that prepares food for council-run institutions and resulted in the hospitalization of eight people.

Nagy is a farming novice and won a state tender for the farm at a low rent without owning any livestock at the time.  However, according to local sources, he has good connections to Agriculture Minister Sándor Fazekas and Economy Minister Mihály Varga.

Documents suggest that the cattle had recently been brought from  Körösnagyharsány, a town on Hungary’s border with Romania. Kócsújfalu residents said the animals had been grazing on land that had been neglected for several years, and suggested the anthrax bacteria may have come from there.

Nagy founded whitegoods firm City Gas in 2009 and expanded its profile to include meat processing and animal husbandry last July, changing the company name to City Farm.

The tender saw Nagy’s company get 250 hectares of land that had formerly belonged to Hortobágy National Park in Kócsújfalu, which is administered by Tiszafüred. “The builders did not have a permit to build the livestock farm,” Tiszafüred’s Fidesz-backed independent mayor Erika Pintér told reporters.

The Fazekas associate also received a large state subsidy to restore a ship assembly hall in Tiszafüred, with the agriculture minister attending the laying of the foundation stone.

Meanwhile all eight of those infected with the beef were allowed to leave Debrecen’s Kenézy Hospital on Monday. County chief veterinarian István Péter blamed the outbreak on farms failing to keep legal regulations, adding that stricter regulations should now be expected. “About 1000 cattle have been inoculated and a three-week local quarantine period has been put in place,” he added.

Anthrax is caused by a bacteria that occurs naturally in soil. Left untreated it can lead to death.

In a separate incident anthrax was detected in home-slaughtered cattle in Heves county on Saturday. The authorities moved quickly to prevent any of the infected meat from reaching the public.

Referenced in this article: