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First Scottish Case of Schmallenberg Identified in Dumfriesshire

Published Wednesday, 24th April 2013 in SAC Consulting news

An image of the Schmallenberg virus
An image of an animal virus

Tests carried out by SAC Consulting: Veterinary Services and Moredun Research Institute have confirmed the first Scottish case of Schmallenberg disease on a Dumfriesshire farm.

The calf born to a suckler cow had birth defects consistent with the pathology of the disease and the lab work carried out by Scotland’s Rural College and Moredun ruled out any alternative possibility.

Schmallenberg (SBV) is a new disease which scientists are still investigating. The virus (SBV) is spread by midges as they seek a blood meal. It was first identified from an outbreak amongst sheep near the village of Schmallenberg in Germany in 2011. It then spread into other parts of the continent including France and the Netherlands. The first British case was reported in the south of England early in 2012.

The effects in sheep and cattle can vary. There can be noticeable signs, a loss of condition, milk loss and diarrhoea or in severe cases, where pregnant females have been infected, to abortion or deformed newborn lambs and calves. Work is continuing to produce a vaccine which it is hoped will be available this year but timescales are uncertain.

It was recently reported that blood tests on eight dairy cows on SRUC’s Barony Campus outside Dumfries had tested positive for antibodies to SBV although there has been no evidence of any calving problems with that herd. This latest case is the first to mirror the problems suffered by many farmers south of the border.

For SRUC, Brian Hosie, Head of SAC Consulting: Veterinary Services, said:

“The report of this recent calving in Dumfriesshire would indicate that SBV was spread by midges in the area during last autumn. We would urge farmers to be more alert than ever to potential problems amongst cattle or sheep and discuss any concerns with their veterinary surgeons.”

SBV is not notifiable in the UK and no restrictions are placed on infected premises. Information issued by SAC Consulting: Veterinary Services (part of Scotland’s Rural College) and Moredun outlining the possible impacts of the disease and best practice guidelines for those sourcing stock from risk areas can be found on our Veterinary Services Disease Hot Topics page and on the Moredun Research Institute Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) page.

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