Deadly virus ‘expected in Scotland soon’

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A VIRUS which causes birth defects in sheep and cattle is almost certain to reach Scotland by the summer.

NFUS president Nigel Miller said the Schmallenberg virus, which affected sheep and cattle across England and Wales last year, was expected in the country in the coming months.

And while farmers in the north could escape infection, he said the disease was likely to move quickly across the southern half of the country.

“We are in the firing line,” he said. “The virus is affected by temperature, so farmers further north could escape, but if it is not too cold it will probably cover Scotland this summer.”

NFUS had put together a surveillance programme with SAC through regular bulk milk sampling in a bid to track the disease and give farmers an early warning, he added.

Previous surveillance had identified animals carrying antibodies to the virus but these had been brought into the country from at risk areas.