Scotland on alert as virus found in livestock in north of England
Scottish livestock producers in the Borders and in Dumfries and Galloway have been put on high alert after the highly infectious Schmallenberg virus (SBV) was confirmed in the north of England.
The positive samples were found on farms in North Yorkshire and Northumberland and they represent the furthest north incidences of the disease, which appeared last year in the south of England.
SBV, identified as a new virus on German and Dutch farms in 2010, is spread by midges and moved throughout parts of Europe and southern England last year.
It causes relatively mild conditions in cattle and sheep but where infection takes place during the early stage of pregnancy, it can result in congenital disorders of lambs and calves, stillbirths and abortions.
So far, cases have been reported in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Denmark, Switzerland and the UK. To date in this country, some 277 cases have been confirmed, 220 involving sheep and the balance in cattle. Reflecting the fear that the highest-risk period is in the early stages of pregnancy, NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller advised farmers in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway planning on putting rams or bulls out in the coming weeks to seek advice from their vet on the possible benefits of delaying until later in the year.
He pointed out that lower temperatures reduced midge and virus activity and presented a low transmission window.
“In the meantime, keepers should remain vigilant to any ill health within their herd or flock and test where SBV might be considered as a possible diagnosis,” he said.
“Farms carrying animals bought in from affected areas in England and Wales are advised to consider testing those animals through the NFUS testing scheme. Samples taken by their vet can be sent to SAC or Biobest where NFUS will help subsidise the cost of the laboratory testing.”
Farmers bringing animals in from high-risk areas have been advised by both the Moredun Research Institute and SAC to test those animals for SBV between 14 and 21 days after arrival.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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