Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) updates - 2012

Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) report

An assessment of what we know about the disease, by Carole Youngs 

Background

Disease is always more terrifying when we don’t know or understand its origin or its nature, and never has this been more so than with Schmallenberg Virus.  The first signs of a new disease were recognised in Germany between August and October 2011, named after the small town where it was initially identified in December.  By early 2012, it had arrived in SE England, and by the end of February had spread to 83 farms in 14 counties.

By now, the short history of the disease has been well documented, seriously in the farming press and, unfortunately, sensationally in some of the mainstream and tabloid press, which can only hinder our understanding of the disease and do damage to farming. 

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Latest Updates

Update 18th June 2012 - Further Update to GB Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

There are 271 UK farms reporting SBV: 49 in cattle and 219 in sheep and 3 premises which reported sheep (earlier in the year) and are now also reporting cattle cases. 

One of the new cattle cases is in the county of East Riding close to the Lincolnshire border. It is not entirely unexpected that sporadic cases may arise outside our most “at risk” areas. 

Link to article  


AHVLA has issued an information note for farmers and vets in Great Britain.

Statement from EUROPA

Technical report from efsa (European Food Safety Authority)  


Update 6th June 2012 - Further Update to GB Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

There are 267 UK farms reporting SBV: 45 in cattle and 219 in sheep and 3 premises which reported sheep (earlier in the year) and are now also reporting cattle cases.

We have adjusted some of the current total numbers for the counties where some premises lie close to a county boundary. This has no bearing on the distribution of infection when it occurred last summer or on our assessment of the risk of incursion of potentially infected midges from Continental Europe. 

Link to article

 

Update 14th May 2012 - Further Update to GB Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

There are 258 UK farms reporting SBV: 36 in cattle and 222 in sheep. Two further cases have been confirmed in sheep, one in the Channel Islands and one in Buckinghamshire. Buckinghamshire is a new addition to the list of counties reporting affected animals, but it is still within our recognised “at risk” area in England.

Link to article

 

Update 4th May 2012 - Further Update to GB Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

There are now 256 UK farms reporting SBV: 36 in cattle and 220 in sheep. This is an increase of one farm in cattle and one in sheep.  All farms are within the recognized risk counties in England.

The decline in the numbers of reporting farms is in line with all EU Member States, where the sheep reports have declined as lambing in ‘at risk’ sheep (those at a critical time of gestation when infection can impact on the foetus) draws to an end. This is also in line with Defra’s own predictions considering UK farming practices and estimated time of infection occurring in the UK. We continue to expect to see cases in cattle into early summer. 

Link to article

 

Update 30th April 2012 - Further Update to GB Testing Results - Report from AHVLA 

There are now 254 UK farms reporting SBV: 35 in cattle and 219 in sheep. This is an increase of two farms in cattle and one in sheep (in the Channel Islands). All farms are within the recognized risk counties in England. 

Link to article

 

Update 16th April 2012 - Further Update to GB Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

There are now 245 UK farms reporting SBV: 30 in cattle and 215 in sheep. This is an increase of only two farms in cattle.  All farms are within the recognised risk counties in England. 

Link to article

 

Update 5th April 2012 - Further Update to GB Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

There are now 239 UK farms reporting SBV: 25 in cattle and 214 in sheep – this is an increase of only one farm since the last update. These all continue to be within the recognised risk counties in England. 

Link to article

Update 31st March 2012 - Warm weather may increase Schmallenberg spread - Farmers Weekly

Midges infected with the Schmallenberg virus could become active earlier than predicted as the unseasonably warm, dry weather continues, according to the Institute of Animal Health.

The disease which causes deformities in newborn animals, has been identified on 223 farms across southern England.

Link to article 

 

Update 30th March 2012 - Further Update to GB Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection has been identified on 235 farms. Twenty five of the positive cases have been diagnosed in cattle, 210 in sheep, and none to date in other species such as goats, camelids or deer. Currently, SBV infection has only been identified in areas predicted to be at risk of midge incursion from Northern Europe during summer / autumn 2011. We cannot rule out the possibility that domestic (local) midges may have transmitted SBV within the affected areas. Domestic midges may have been infected after biting a local animal infected last summer after incursion of continental midges. 

Link to article

 

Update 26th March 2012 - Further Update to GB Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection has been identified on 223 farms. Twenty of the positive cases have been diagnosed in cattle, 203 in sheep, and none to date in other species such as goats, camelids or deer. Currently, SBV infection has only been identified in areas predicted to be at risk of midge incursion from Northern Europe during summer / autumn 2011. We cannot rule out the possibility that domestic (local) midges may have transmitted SBV within the affected areas. Domestic midges may have been infected after biting a local animal infected last summer after incursion of continental midges.

Link to article 

 

 

Update 16th March 2012 - Further UK Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection has been identified on 176 farms. Twelve of the positive cases have been diagnosed in cattle, 164 in sheep, and none to date in other species such as goats, camelids or deer. Two new counties are included in the list – Greater London and Warwickshire. 

Link to article    

 

 

Update 12th March 2012 - Further UK Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection has been identified on 158 farms. Eleven of the positive cases have been diagnosed in cattle, 147 in sheep, and none to date in other species. No increase in the counties affected. SBV infection has only been identified in areas at risk of midge incursion from Northern Europe during summer / autumn 2011.   

Link to article 

 

 

Update 5th March 2012 - Further UK Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection has been identified on 121 farms. Eight of the positive cases have been diagnosed in cattle, 113 in sheep, and none to date in other species. Four new counties have reported disease: Devon, Dorset, Cambridgeshire and Somerset.

So far, none of the affected farms have reported importing animals during 2011 from the affected areas in mainland Europe. SBV infection has only been identified in areas at risk of midge incursion from Northern Europe during summer / autumn 2011. 

Link to article 

 

 

Update 27th February 2012 - Further UK Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection has been identified on 83 farms. Five of the positive cases have been diagnosed in  cattle, 78 in sheep, and none to date in other species. Positive cases of SBV virus have now been identified on the Isle of Wight and in Wiltshire, West Berkshire and South Gloucestershire.

Link to article

 

BBC News Report - 27th February 2012

Nothing can be done to improve the lot of lambs and calves being born this spring, as their conditions result from infections that happened last year. The Friedrich Loeffler Institut in Germany has already developed a test for the virus, but it can only be used in the lab. The National Farmers Union is among those pushing for rapid development of a test that can be used on farms.  

Link to article

 

Update 21st February 2012 - Further UK Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) has now been identified in samples submitted from 58 farms across the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Cornwall and Wiltshire.  

Link to article

 

Update 17th February 2012 - Further UK Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) has now been identified in samples submitted from 52 farms across the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Hampshire and Cornwall. Due to the increase in reports of SBV identified in France, the areas at comparatively higher risk in the UK have been revised in line with the plume modeling data from the summer which models areas at risk of midge incursion from northern Europe. These areas include Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and therefore an increase in risk for South Wales. The timing of the most dense plumes would have been in late October for this south west region. This is therefore in line with the appearance of deformities in lambs being born now, assuming the highest risk period for lambs is if the mother is infected at approximately one month into gestation.

Link to article  

 

Update 7th February 2012 - Further UK Testing Results - Report from AHVLA

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) has now been identified in samples submitted from 29 farms across the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex and Hertfordshire. All of the counties where SBV infection has been identified are in the zones recognised as potentially at risk from infected midges being blown across last summer from affected areas in northern mainland Europe. Enhanced surveillance for SBV infection has been implemented across GB and the number of samples submitted to AHVLA for SBV testing continues to increase.

The current situation is in line with our current understanding of SBV, but our knowledge about this disease is developing and the area of GB considered at risk of SBV infection might increase as new information becomes available about the extent of infection in Europe.  

Link to article 

 

Update 7th February 2012 - Schmallenberg Trebles in UK - Report from Farmers Weekly

The number of confirmed cases of Schmallenberg virus now stands at 33 - including the first confirmed bovine case reported in West Sussex.

Additional tests are in progress on the bovine sample.

The remaining 32 cases are all in sheep - in Norfolk (11), Suffolk (6), Essex (2), Kent (5), East Sussex (7), and Hertfordshire (1).    

Link to article

 

Update 31st January 2012 - Report from AHVLA (Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency)

We have finished testing the latest samples received as a result of heightened vigilance for this new disease. Schmallenberg virus has now been identified in 11 submissions across the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and East Sussex. 

These counties are in the area already identified as potentially at risk from infected midges being blown across the Channel from affected areas in Europe. We, therefore, suspect this to be the most likely cause of transmission.

As surveillance continues and the lambing season progress we would expect further cases.

Link to article

 

Update 30th January 2012 - Report from Farmers Weekly

Cases of the Schmallenberg virus in cattle, sheep and goats continue to rise across continental Europe.

Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium have so far borne the brunt of the disease which is transmitted by insect vectors. Germany has 106 confirmed cases - a five-fold increase in the past seven days (23 January to 30 January). Statistics for The Netherlands show that 349 farms have reported symptoms, a 50% increase on numbers reported on 25 January. Of those, 87 cases have been confirmed with the disease and 71 are still under investigation. The remainder have proved inconclusive.

In Belgium 285 farms have been tested and cases found to date on 62 units. France has now also reported two incidences while the UK remains at four confirmed cases in the south and east of England. 

The worsening situation has prompted Russia to suspend imports of sheep and sheep meat from the three countries hit hardest by the disease, according to red meat promotion body EBLEX. It is likely that import restrictions may be issued on product from the UK," a statement by EBLEX said. But it added that the UK shipped only 5,000kg of sheep meat to Russia.

The Russian state veterinary service has said its controls would remain in place while it sought more information on key features of the virus, including methods of diagnosis, control and prevention. The agency has also threatened to extend the ban to more livestock products.The Schmallenberg virus causes deformation in the neck, head and limbs of cattle sheep and goats and was named after a German town where it was first found last year.

Link to article

 

Report from AHVLA (Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency)

Latest update:

We have finished the initial analysis of samples we have received as a result of our enhanced surveillance for this new disease. We have identified the Schmallenberg Virus in some of these samples and as we continue surveillance we may find further cases.  

These samples came from the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex. These counties are in the area that we had identified as potentially being at risk from infected midges blown across the Channel from the affected areas and we suspect that this is the most likely cause of transmission.  

Link to article

 

On January 23 AHVLA reported the presence of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) on four sheep farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex. Last week we obtained samples from animals with clinical signs consistent with SBV infection via our Regional Laboratory network. The samples were analysed at the Virology Laboratory, AHVLA Weybridge based on information provided by the Netherlands and the Friedrich Loeffler Institute.

Specific RT-PCR products were detected by two independent means from two different genes of SBV. Along with the sequence information we have obtained, all combined with the clinical picture seen, we consider this now provides a sufficient level of laboratory confirmation to conclude that SBV has been detected in GB sheep.  

News item on 12 January 2012

Since August 2011, both the Netherlands and Germany have reported outbreaks of a disease in cattle, with clinical signs including fever, reduced milk yield, inappetence, loss of body condition and, principally in Dutch herds, diarrhoea. Herds experienced outbreaks of disease lasting 2-3 weeks, with individual affected animals recovering over several days. More recently (November 2011 onwards) there have been reports of miscarriages and stillbirths associated with congenital (present at birth) abnormalities affecting mainly sheep but also cattle and goats. Tests carried out on cases in Germany and the Netherlands have identified a novel virus that has tentatively been named Schmallenberg virus (SBV). This virus appears to belong to a group of viruses that are spread by insect vectors, principally midges and mosquitoes, although a vector that may be responsible for transmission of SBV has not been identified yet.

According to an initial risk assessment carried out by public health authorities in the Netherlands and a follow-up risk assessment by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, although there are still some uncertainties, the risk to human health from SBV is likely to be very low. Nevertheless, farmers and veterinary surgeons are advised to take sensible hygiene precautions when working with livestock.

Further information, including an AHVLA briefing note on the current situation can be found on the international disease monitoring page on the Defra website. Please contact your local AHVLA Regional Laboratory or SAC Disease Surveillance Centre if you require further guidance or information.    

Link to AHVLA article

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