FARMERS in Scotland are on high alert after a virus carried by midges which attacks livestock was found in animals just south of the border.
• Farmers warned of cattle virus Schmallenberg, spread by midges, spreading towards Scotland
• The virus, spread by midges, causes deformities and stillbirths in sheep and cattle
• Virus was first detected in UK in January
Surveillance by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found the Schmallenberg virus at farms in North Yorkshire and Northumberland.
Farmers in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway have now been urged to consult vets and consider postponing breeding with rams or bulls until later in the year when lower temperatures reduce the movements of midges, lowering the risk of the virus being transmitted.
The survey fuelled fears that Schmallenberg, which causes deformities and stillbirths in sheep and cattle, is spreading north from England to Scotland.
Earlier this year the Scottish Government and the National Farmers Union Scotland launched voluntary screening of livestock arriving from areas known to be affected by the virus in a bid to provide an early detection system to prevent it taking hold here.
Schmallenberg was first detected in the UK in January when it was brought over by midges blown across from the continent. Since then cases of affected animals have been recorded on more than 280 farms, mostly in the south and east of England.
It is thought to be carried by the Culicoides midge, which is found all over the UK but is particularly prevalent in the Highlands.
A huge rise in the number of midges in Scotland this summer heightened concerns that an outbreak of the virus could occur in Scotland.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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