Schmallenberg Virus

Schmallenberg virus was first detected in August 2011 within Germany, spreading to the Netherlands, Belgium and now the UK. Eleven positive submissions have been confirmed on UK farms by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories (1 Feb 2012) in Norfolk, Suffolk, East Sussex, Essex and Kent. Schmallenberg is a viral disease affecting cattle, sheep and goats. In adult cattle the disease has been associated with symptoms including milk drop, fever, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and late abortion or birth defects in calves, lambs and kids. The disease often abbreviated to SBV, is not notifiable, there are currently no implications to trade or movement barriers. The virus appears to belong to a group of viruses spread by insect vectors, principally midges and mosquitoes. The exact cause of transmission within UK animals is not known, however as Norfolk, Suffolk, East Sussex, Essex and Kent are counties identified as potentially at risk from wind blown infected European midges, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories (AHVLA) suspect this is the most likely cause of transmission. Unfortunately there is currently no treatment or vaccine for animals infected with the Schmallenberg virus but farmers can help the situation by:

Be extra vigilant and support the gathering of information by reporting new-born limb and brain defects to your veterinary practice. It is important that cases are reported so that the true number of cases can be monitored.

Farmers should consider post-mortem testing. Currently Defra are covering the costs of testing for Schmallenberg Virus. Once a case has been confirmed there is no need to send further samples from that farm.

Producers should contact the AHVLA or the SAC in Scotland via their vet.