Schmallenberg was identified as a new virus in November 2011, after outbreaks of disease in adult cattle causing fever, reduced milk yield, loss of appetite, loss of body condition and diarrhoea were reported in both the Netherlands and Germany. From December 2011, abortions and stillbirths associated with foetal abnormalities, affecting mainly sheep but also cattle and goats, were identified in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is spread by Culicoides midges, and the virus spread is closely linked to the number of midges. The first positive SBV case in Great Britain was in Cornwall in October 2016. The APHA has (up to June 2017) confirmed SBV in lambs on 139 premises in England & Wales and on 9 premises in Southern counties of Scotland. More than 700 cases have been reported in Europe.
Schmallenberg virus is unlikely to cause illness in people. As yet, no human cases have been detected in any country and the most closely related viruses only cause animal disease. Pregnant women should not have contact with sheep and goats at lambing/kidding time due to risks of exposure to other disease causing organisms.
Signs of illness in adult stock are not specific and may not be seen. Infected pregnant animals are at risk of producing offspring with considerable congenital damage, especially twisted legs, brain damage and abnormal jaws. Such animals are not viable, and present a serious economic loss to affected farms. Lambing and calving of these abnormal young, may well need Veterinary assistance.
The Department is urging the Island's animal keepers to remain vigilant. Please report suspicious birth defects to your private Veterinary Surgeon for testing through AHVLA.
We do not expect infected midges to have arrived on the Island, but recently imported animals should be monitored at lambing or calving. SBV is not currently notifiable.
For further information please contact:
Thie Slieau Whallian
+44 1624 685844