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Schmallenberg Virus News
2013 Warmwell.com is unable at present adequately to follow the alarming progress of the Schmallenberg virus, but warmly recommends
FluTrackers on SBV for news and updates.
AHVLA for latest information on the UK situation
Totals by species in affected countries can be seen on FWi's SBV page and see also ec.europa.eu
March 27th 2015 ~ Schmallenberg identified in spring calving suckler herds in the South West
Eight deformed calves and other suspected cases
from the Schmallenberg virus are reported in Farmers Weekly
today. The article quotes Keith Cutler from Endell Vet Group who says that uptake of the Schmallenberg vaccine last year "wasn’t great". As for sheep, he hoped the infection period would have happened before
ewes went to the tup.
May 21st 2013 ~ British farmers will get the new Schmallenberg vaccine this summer
There are now thought to be about 1,700 farms throughout the UK - in all counties - that have now tested positive for the SBV virus. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD)
of the United Kingdom has granted MSD Animal Health (Merck) a provisional marketing authorisation for the vaccine called Bovilis(R) SBV
which has been developed by Merck. In June last year Merck reported that the vaccine is based on
"wild-type Schmallenberg virus that has been inactivated
and contains an adjuvant that stimulates the immune response. In the studies to date, safety and efficacy has been demonstrated in calves, lambs and pregnant ewes....
and we have now reported that all animals responded with formation of virus neutralizing antibodies. .. we are now on track to develop a vaccine against Schmallenberg."
The vaccine will be available in 20ml and 100ml vials and
MSD Animal Health says it is "working diligently to expedite stocks to the UK".
Those wanting more information about the vaccine should contact their vet or phone MSD Animal Health's Veterinary Support Group on 01908 685685.
September 2012 ~ Schmallenberg virus could spread across the whole of Britain this year.
Recent figures reported in August showed 276 farms affected in the UK - 53 with cattle, 220 with sheep and 3 in both sheep and cattle.
Tests since March on about 150 cattle and more than 1,000 sheep at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in Herts showed positive results for antibody.
Prof Peter Mertens, of IAH is quoted here:
"On the basis it spread last year very effectively, I see no reason why it couldn’t spread to cover most of the country this year."
He added that Schmallenberg was serious but was "not as bad as bluetongue". Unfortunately, no vaccine for the disease will be ready this year.
August 29th 2012 ~ Scottish farmers offered free tests
Scotsman "....Testing for the Schmallenberg virus (SBV), which is carried by midges, will be carried out free of charge on hundreds of cattle and sheep imported to Scotland from affected areas, including parts of England.
The move comes as the transporting of farm animals for breeding nears its peak, increasing the risk that the virus will emerge north of the border. There have been no reported cases of the virus in Scotland so far."
August 27th 2012 ~ Scotland alarmed at the likely increase in culicoides midges
Work carried out by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) looking at the epidemiology of SBV has uncovered results which suggest that the virus has over-wintered in the south and is circulating now.
Scientists have reported finding up to five times the number of midges usually collected in counting traps this summer. The senior research fellow in entomology at Edinburgh University and founder of the Scottish Midge Forecast,
Dr Alison Blackwell, said:
" Although we are monitoring Highland midges, I would expect there to be significantly higher populations of other midges too which will increase the risk of this virus."
On August 8th NFUS Nigel Miller said " We have suggested to Scottish Government that we look at using sentinel animals and monitor them for exposure to SBV. Such is the level of concern over the disease that many Scottish farmers, including myself, would happily volunteer to be part of that process and provide stock for testing...." He said that important management decisions would be easier to make if robust surveillance work monitoring the spread of the virus was in place. (More)
August 2012 ~ "Prof Mertens also dashed any hopes that a vaccine would be ready
ahead of the sheep breeding season"
Schmallenberg virus survived the winter in the UK.
Farmers Weekly reports:
'.....It appears unlikely that a vaccine will be available and licensed for
use in the UK for this season, so it is very important to consider
what other control measures might be supported by the results of
scientific research,' he said." Read in full. See also BBC
July 9th 2012 ~ Institute for Animal Health (IAH) gets £680,000 from the BBSRC to sequence and study the Culicoides midge genome
See Farmers Guardian Dr Simon Carpenter, head of entomology at IAH, is quoted:
"At IAH we monitor midge populations across the UK all the time but we don’t always know how good each group is going to be at transmitting viruses. This project will help us to target strategies for prevention and control of diseases far more precisely." Various of the many Culicoides species have been shown to be vectors for viruses and conditions that include Bluetongue, African Horse Sickness, bovine ephemeral fever, Akabane virus, and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease. In March this year, the Schmallenberg virus was identified in the obsoletus and dewulfi Culicoides midges.
July 4th 2012 ~ MSD Animal Health are confident that the vaccine could be developed for production by the end of the year - 12 months earlier than anticipated.
Farmers Weekly on Monday: "The vaccine is based on a wild-type Schmallenberg strain that has been inactivated and contains an adjuvant that stimulates immunity
The safety and efficacy of the vaccine has been demonstrated in tests in calves, lambs and pregnant ewes.
Scientists from MSD Animal Health presented the results of the vaccination trials during the 6th Annual Meeting of EPIZONE (an international network of veterinary research institutes working on epizootic animal disease) at Brighton in June.
Veronique Moulin, research scientist at the virological R&D department at MSD Animal Health, said the trials were promising." Read in full
June 29th 2012 ~ Russia is preparing to relax the ban on EU livestock
Six of the eight EU member states affected by the Schmallenberg virus will soon again be able to export to Russia. However, a partial ban will remain for the Netherlands and France. Seewww.allaboutfeed.net
"Russia’s Veterinary Service and the European Union (EU) have finally reached an understanding in terms of the import of animal products to Russia. Very soon the importation of livestock products, including PAP (processed animal protein) feed, which has been banned by Russian veterinary services since March 2012, will be restored...." Read in full
June 25th 2012 ~ The wolf in the sheepfold
Schmallenberg in France The total on June 15th was 2241 premises affected (1128 sheep, 1096 bovine and 17 goat) in 58 different departments This is just 6 months after the first appearance of SBV in France. An article yesterday puts it dramatically: "The Wolf in the Sheepfold?" and the map shown of the areas affected in Europe and England is equally worrying.
June 25th 2012 ~ "The following knowledge gaps should be addressed:
In the post about the latest EFSA report on Schmallenberg,
ProMed moderator (AS) says that the following knowledge gaps should be addressed:
- SBV vector competency and other vector host transmission parameters
(e.g. data on the extrinsic incubation period);
- Distribution, density and over wintering of Culicoides vectors;
- SBV host vector transmission parameters;
- Other routes of transmission;
- Host susceptibility, species range, virulence and vulnerable period
- Development and duration of post infection immunity;
- Potential extensions of the geographical spread model".
June 8th 2012 ~ 1st Danish animal
tests positive for Schmallenberg virus
A malformed and stillborn calf from Funen is the 1st Danish animal
to have tested positive for Schmallenberg virus
The Danish National Veterinary Institute has investigated stillbirths and weak-born calves, lambs,
and kids with deformities of SBV in March, April, and May .
There were 56 animals studied, and a single calf has thus tested
positive for the virus, using the PCR method. See report at www.flutrackers.com
June 6th 2012 ~ 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.
See AHVLA for officially confirmed cases and table.
May 31st 2012 ~ Updated figures of reported SBV-positive holdings for the whole of Europe - 4624 (inclouding roe deer)
See ProMed today. Senior moderator AS comments "Most of the added infected holdings since the previous update of 26 Apr 2012 (see 20120426.1115024) are attributed to the increase of SBV-related cases in cattle farms, as expected. In France, 206 new infected cattle holdings have been detected since 11 May 2012.
The German data on cases in roe deer are noteworthy. It will be interesting to obtain data on SBV and other orthobunyavirus- (e.g. Akabane) related congenital malformations in wildlife from other countries. Antibodies to Akabane virus have been found in the past in, besides large and small domestic ruminants, horses, donkeys, buffalo, deer, camels, and pigs."
May 27th 2012 ~ The OIE TECHNICAL FACTSHEET has been updated for May
It can be downloaded as a pdf file here. The viraemic period is very short. There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine for Schmallenberg virus. Extract:
Identification of the agent
- Real-time RT-PCR (Bilk et al., 2012); commercial PCR kits are available
- Cell culture isolation of the virus: insect cells (KC), hamster cells (BHK), monkey kidney cells (VERO)
Serological tests on serum samples
- ELISA: commercial kit available
- Indirect Immunofluorescence
- Neutralization test
For further information, reference material and advice, refer to Dr Martin Beer (Martin.Beer@fli.bund.de), Institute of Diagnostic Virology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany.
May 24th 2012 ~ New explosion of cases in France
The total number of SBv cases has risen to 1623 - and France has now the largest number of reported infected farms. Germany has 1521. There have been 152 new cases in France over the past week - the majority are sheep farms but there are also 478 cattle and 17 goat premises where the infection has been confirmed. www.campagnesetenvironnement.fr
May 21 2012 ~ 260 UK farms reporting SBV: 38 in cattle and 222 in sheep.
AHVLA "Two further cases have been confirmed in cattle, one in Kent and one in Surrey within our recognised “at risk” area in England...."
May 18th 2012 ~ There are 258 UK farms reporting SBV: 36 in cattle and 222 in sheep. There are no new reported cases since the 14 May 2012
AHVLA says "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. It is a consequence of more detailed ongoing work following up affected premises in order to assess impact.
Figures correct as of 18 May 2012" AHVLA
May 2012 ~ PRO/AH/EDR> Schmallenberg virus - Europe (41): serosurvey, vector
Archive Number: 20120521.1139793
SCHMALLENBERG VIRUS - EUROPE (41): SEROSURVEY, VECTOR contains this letter:
Letter: Culicoids as Vectors of Schmallenberg Virus Read ProMed posting in full
We present evidence that culicoids captured in October 2011 in Denmark contained SBV RNA and most likely are vectors for this agent.
In autumn 2011, culicoids were collected from several sites within Denmark. One site, a chicken farm in Hokkerup [for map, refer to the original article at the source URL] was selected for study because of its location close (6 km) to the German border and proximity (less than 10 km) to an SBV-infected sheep farm in Germany, as reported on 9 Mar 2012 by the Friedrich Loeffler Institute surveillance website (http://www.fli.bund.de).
The culicoids were collected during 14-16 Oct 2011. Midges were sorted manually into 91 specimens of the _C. obsoletus_ group (comprising _C. obsoletus_, _C. chiopterus_, _C. dewulfi_, and _C. scoticus_) and 17 of the _C. punctatus sensu stricto_ group, then stored at -20 C.
Two of 22 pools tested strongly positive for the large (L) and small (S) segments of SBV RNA. Each positive sample was derived from 5 midges of the _C. obsoletus_ group. One pool produced cycle threshold (Ct) values of 26.4 and 24.5 (in the L segment- and S segment-specific assays, respectively), whereas the 2nd positive pool gave Ct values of 28.8 (L segment) and 27.6 (S segment).
These pools were negative for the internal endogenous control that targeted the bovine/ovine beta-actin mRNA. This result makes it unlikely that the detection of SBV RNA within the midges resulted from recent blood meals from infected animals remaining within the culicoids and suggests the virus has replicated within the midges.
Even if all 5 culicoids in a pool had recently taken a blood meal from a viremic animal, the Ct values observed here strongly suggest replication of SBV within the _C. obsoletus_ group midges. However, in principle, other hosts of SBV could have a much higher level of viremia than cattle and could provide the levels of SBV RNA detected. _C. punctatus_ s.s. midges cannot be ruled out as a possible vector of SBV because of the limited number of insects tested.
Our study demonstrates the presence of SBV RNA in _C. obsoletus_ group midges caught in Denmark during October 2011. The low Ct values (i.e., high SBV RNA levels) and the absence of ruminant beta-actin mRNA in these samples strongly suggest that SBV replicates in these midges and, hence, that the _C. obsoletus_ group midges are natural vectors for this virus.
[Byline: L. Dam Rasmussen, B. Kristensen, C. Kirkeby, T. Bruun Rasmussen, G.J. Belsham, R. Bodker, and A. Botner]
May 10th 2012 ~ EU earmarks 3 million euros for work on Schmallenberg virus
See europa.eu "Animal Health: Commission earmarks €3 million to carry out scientific studies on Schmallenberg virus
"As part of a series of initiatives to closely monitor the development of the Schmallenberg virus (SBV), the Commission has today earmarked almost EUR 3 million to support 7 Member States to carry out scientific studies aiming to gather further information on the SBV.
14 projects submitted by 7 Member States have been selected based on commonly agreed priorities aiming to fill the SBV knowledge gap in 3 main areas:
Most (11 out of 14) of the scientific studies have been presented by several Member States in the form of a consortium aiming for synergies and cooperation and allowing a wider range of data for example on vectors distribution, weather conditions and host ranges.
- the mechanism by which the infection is caused (pathogenesis);
- the transmission pathways, the role of vectors and reservoirs and the host range (epidemiology) as well as
- the development of suitable analytical methods allowing large-scale testing.
The studies will be co-financed by the Commission at the rate of 50 % of eligible costs for the period 1 April 2012 to 31 December 2013 for the following Member States: Belgium; Germany; Spain; France; Italy; the Netherlands and the UK.
The studies are expected to be finalised by 31 December 2013 and published in April 2014.
SBV is an emerging infectious agent of ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats and wild ruminants) named after the place where it was first isolated in the EU in November 2011. Available information indicates that the SBV does not infect humans and the number of affected animals (mainly congenital malformations and aborts) is very limited compared with the susceptible ruminant population in the eight Member States (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom) that have signalled confirmed cases of SBV. For more information on the Schmallenberg virus: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/diseases/schmallenberg_virus/index_en.htm . For more information on the International Scientific seminar on the Schmallenberg virus hosted by the Commission on 3 April 2012: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/diseases/schmallenberg_virus/index_en.htm "
May 9th 2012 ~ New joint risk assessment on risks to human health of the Schmallenberg virus
May 8th 2012 ~ Affected premises in France still on the increase
Schmallenberg premises in which the Schmallenberg virus has been confirmed in France stood at 1412 on May 4th - 45 more than in the preceding week.
May 4th 2012 ~ AHVLA is now reporting that 256 UK farms have been affected by Schmallenberg virus: 36 in cattle and 220 in sheep
The AHVLA page is here. We find that the numbers in France, where reporting is very efficient, seem very much higher than the UK reported cases. By April 27th there were 1367 farms reported as affected right across France.
April 30th 2012 ~ How many Schmallenberg cases are there really in the UK? 254?
Today's official figure Schmallenberg virus: further update on GB testing results from the AHVLA says there are to date 254 cases - and that "all farms are within the recognized risk counties in England."
What makes this not altogether reassuring is that we hear the following about possible cases in counties that are not "recognized risk counties" :
While disease monitoring is expensive some might think that farmers deserve full and open information about this distressing disease. They want to know what is really happening, news on antibody testing, and how work done in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany is progressing. It would be good to know how far Pirbright is collaborating and sharing work with laboratories in the rest of Europe. Farmers want to be able to trust what they are being told.
- Three badly deformed lambs all born with fused joints in Yorkshire. The first SBV test taken (by the farmer) to Thirsk was eventually returned as clear. Tests on the second and third lamb, also submitted, returned with considerable delay as "no result". In the farmer's view the way the VLA handled this case was a shambles.
- The neighbour of the same farmer in Yorkshire had a dead kid goat with the same symptoms.
- 2 lambs with strange bulging heads and no eyes born in Cumbria. The farmer suspected Microphthalmia or Blind Lamb syndrome, an inherited genetic defect. However, lambs with Microphthalmia are always born live and not with strange heads and it was suggested to him that the lambs' condition was the result of SBV. Nothing more was heard about this.
- A deformed calf for which SBV test results were positive and conveyed by the vet has not been included in the latest AHVLA report. The farmer was told if he had another case not to report it.
27th Apr 2012 ~ Schmallenberg vaccine: "no stone will be left unturned"
Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire) (LD): The farming community are very worried about the outbreak of the Schmallenberg virus. Will the Secretary of State tell us whether pan-European work will be done to produce a vaccine against this terrible disease?
However encouraging this sounds and as we say below, we still feel concern that vaccine may not be going to be produced in quantity if the companies concerned fear its removal from the EU on "disease-free status grounds".
Mrs Spelman: We are working on a co-operative basis with the other member states that have been affected. One of the lessons from the successful tackling of blue tongue for the farming industry and the vaccination industry is the viability of such a vaccine. It would take several years to produce such a vaccine as it is a new virus and still requires a lot of science to make sure that we make the right decision. I give my hon. Friend the absolute assurance that, with the quality of our scientific base added to that of other member states, no stone will be left unturned."
April 23rd 2012 ~ 250 UK farms reporting SBV: 32 in cattle and 218 in sheep. This is an increase of one farm in sheep
These are the official AHVLA figures from their website. It is very different in France where there are now more than 1300 farms affected with 71 new ones since the last French count on 13th April.
April 17th 2012 ~ Schmallenberg
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. See AHVLA
April 6th 2012 ~"ProMED-mail's normal policy is not to be engaged in reports dealing with commercial products....Development of sero-tests for SBV has been undertaken by other laboratories as well..."
ProMed Senior Moderator comments on the ANSES communication in our posting below this one. He says:
"The above message, received from ANSES (the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, a public authority reporting to the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, the Environment, Labour and Consumer Affairs, founded in 2010), may become good news. Read ProMed update 33 in full
ProMED-mail's normal policy is not to be engaged in reports dealing with commercial products; the current deviation from the policy is based upon the urgent need for such a test (as expressed by the OIE on 16 Feb 2012), and the kit is not endorsed by us.
If/when certified for field use, such kits may facilitate the performance of animal mass-testing in the 8 infected countries and elsewhere to study the epidemiology of SBV as well as to support safe international trade. A validated serological test may allow an update of the recommendations endorsed by the OIE Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases on 16 Feb 2012 (see 20120217.1045067).
Development of sero-tests for SBV has been undertaken by other laboratories as well. In this context, we would wish to convey to our subscribers the response of the Robert Koch Institute in Germany to our commentary in posting 20120402.1088492 concerning cross-sectional seroprevalence study in shepherds living in the epidemic area in Germany (North-Rhine Westphalia). Reportedly, the RKI developed an immunofluroscence test (IFAT) and a neutralisation test (NT) for SBV tests in humans. IFAT was performed initially and NT in case of borderline results. All blood samples tested negative for specific antibodies against SBV. In view of this clarification, our suggestion that human sera from SBV-contact persons "will also undergo serological tests when the test becomes available," was, in fact, redundant." - Mod.AS]
April 6th 2012 ~ "Serological testing is essential for disease surveillance and
Emmanuel Breard of the French agency ANSES sent this communication to ProMed
" ....While antibodies can be detected by virus
neutralization and immunofluorescence, these techniques are
time-consuming, difficult to implement for large numbers of samples,
and do not offer standardized result interpretation.See ProMed SBV update 33 and/or the posting above.
This week, the animal health laboratory of the French agency ANSES
(Maisons-Alfort, France), after a collaborative study, has approved an
indirect ELISA, based on a recombinant SBV nucleoprotein antigen
developed and produced by IDvet.
This kit is currently being evaluated by other European national
External validation studies indicate excellent test specificity (99.75
percent, n=1179), and high correlation with other serological
techniques (98.9 percent with respect to VNT), making this ELISA an
efficient tool for epidemiological studies."
April 4th 2012 ~ One day SBV seminar in Brussels
Over 120 experts and scientists from around the world met in Brussels on April 3rd to attend a scientific seminar on the Schmallenberg virus (SBV).
"The one-day seminar was also attended by representatives from over 44 countries, including major partners such as Russia, US, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Ukraine. The event was an opportunity for an exchange of views on the approach being taken by the EU to tackle this newly detected virus, and also an opportunity to share and discuss the most up-to-date information and science, including a second report on SBV published by EFSA yesterday. Significantly, the results of the EFSA report, which was presented at the seminar, concluded that for all affected countries, the number of affected animals is very low in comparison with the total number of animals/herds. One of the main aims of the conference was to ensure transparency and dialogue with trading partners, in order to avoid any unnecessary or disproportionate trade restrictions being put in place." For more information on the seminar, and the presentations given: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/diseases/schmallenberg_virus/index_en.htm
April 3rd 2012 ~ Germany makes SBV a notifiable disease
The Farmers Guardian reports that Germany has now made it compulsory for diagnosed cases to be reported.
"Germany has borne the brunt of the outbreak since the virus was identified there for the first time last year, with its 1,120 confirmed cases accounting for well over one-third of all cases recorded in Europe."Read article
April 3rd 2012 ~ European farms infected now number nearly 3000.
There are 8 countries affected: Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France,
UK, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain. Worst so far is
Germany (1120 farms), followed by France with 1048 infected farms.
(My own French vet this morning called the virus "infernal" and was aghast that it was now to be found in every Department of mainland France.)
We learn from ProMed's latest SBV update that the EC held a scientific seminar yesterday
addressing the effect of SBV. "... The seminar will be attended by experts
from various EU-member countries as well as interested parties from
April 2nd 2012 ~ Robert Koch Institute's study of shepherds' blood shows no SBV antibodies present.
The German news article at FluTrackers reports that the blood tests carried out on 60 sheep farmers and one cattle owner who had been in contact with SBV showed no antibodies. This confirms that the virus can be thought to have a very low risk for human beings. See (in German) www.flutrackers.com
April 2nd 2012 ~ Schmallenberg-virus in Europe 2,948 farms affected according to official figures
The map of Europe showing affected farms by means of a red dot graphically conveys the extent of the problem. Each dot represents deformed or dead lambs or calves. Not pretty. Flutrackers shows the map with the location of the foci "compatible with Schmallenberg virus infection (SBV) that have been notified to the OIE".
March 30th 2012 ~SBV now officially noted on 235 UK farms (25 cattle, 210 sheep). First cattle cases in Essex, Devon & Cornwall
The AHVLA Schmallenberg page has been updated today, showing that the infection has been identified on 235 farms. "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."
March 29th 2012 ~ "Detection of Schmallenberg virus made possible by bioMérieux: the ADIAGENE PCR kit has been validated by ANSES"
ADIAGENE, a member of the bioMérieux group and specialized in diagnostics for animal health, has obtained ANSES validation for a kit for the detection of Schmallenberg virus. Based on molecular biology techniques, the new ADIAVET™ Schmallenberg virus PCR detection kit was developed by ADIAGENE in close collaboration with the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES, Maisons-Alfort, France). The Direction Générale de l'Alimentation (DGAL) has just authorized its use in certified French public veterinary laboratories. See www.4-traders.com
More details from the Adiagene website: Ready to use kit
Single-well duplex kit
Validated by French Reference Laboratory (ANSES Maisons-Alfort)
12 months shelflife
March 28th 2012 ~ Dr Anthony Wilson at the IAH
"Higher temperatures mean shorter incubation periods for the virus."
The Farmers Weekly quotes Dr Wilson today:
"However, it is important to remember that the cases we are currently seeing were caused by infections in pregnant animals months ago, and that, therefore, even if transmission does resume in the next few weeks, new cases resulting from this transmission will not be seen in newborns until later this year." Read FWi Belgian scientists at the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine and the Belgian Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre have been able to detect the virus in the saliva of the three midges that can transmit the virus: Culicoides obsoletus, Culicoides dewulfi and Culicoides pulicaris. All three midges are native to Britain with Culicoides obsoletus probably the most abundant species on British farms.
March 25th 2012 ~ All three species of vector - Culicoides obsoletus, Culicoides dewulfi and Culicoides pulicaris - are native to Britain.
DEFRA, quoted by the Sunday Telegraph, has now confirmed that
"it is likely that domestic midges have transmitted Schmallenberg virus within the affected areas. We cannot rule out the possibility that domestic [local] midges may have transmitted Schmallenberg virus within the affected areas. Domestic midges may have been infected after biting a local animal infected last summer after incursion of Continental midges."Dr Simon Carpenter, from Pirbright, is also quoted:
"The fact that virus genetic material has been isolated from these midge species is bad news for us in the UK as they are abundant on all of our farms. All of three of these midges are pretty common here in the UK. Culicoides obsoletus is probably the most abundant species on British farms." Read article in full
March 23rd 2012 ~ SBV confirmed in Jersey
The Schmallenberg virus has been found in sheep in Jersey. Linda Lowseck, the states veterinary officer has confirmed that the virus was found in samples from a sheep flock owner whose animals had had problems with lambing. See BBC
March 17th 2012 ~ First microscopic visualisation of SBV
Scientists of the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, led by Dr. Harald Granzow of the Institute of Infectology of the FLI on the Isle of Riems , used high-resolution electron microscopic analyses of infected cells. The shape of the virus is similar to that of other bunyaviruses; the virus is visible as a membrane-enveloped particle with a diameter of approx. 100 nanometers (1nm = 1 millionth of a millimeter). The membrane envelops the three segments of the genetic information. Prof Thomas C. Mettenleiter says "This is another important step forward in the understanding of Schmallenberg virus". See the picture here
March 17th 2012 ~ Schmallenberg infection now on 176 UK farms. Virus also newly confirmed in Greater London & Warwickshire
See AHVLA website which shows officially noted results from counties. No mention is yet made of the Belgian findings about vectors. (See below).
In France there are now 824 farms affected. The virus is also suspected in Jersey.
March 17th 2012 ~ Belgian scientists have demonstrated that SBV is transmitted by the midges Culicoides obsoletus, dewulfi and pulicaris.
www.sciguru.com"Belgian scientists have found out how the infamous Schmallenberg virus is transmitted from animal to animal. The culprits are biting midges, the same that transmit bluetongue in Europe. This was proven in a joint effort by researchers from the Antwerp institute of Tropical Medicine (ITG) and the Belgian Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre (VAR)...." More
March 15th 2012 ~ Cases found in East Midlands
The two sheep farms involved have not been identified. See BBC
March 15th 2012 ~ First case of SBV in Spain
See www.elmundo.es (Spanish) Veterinarians from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have confirmed the presence of the virus Schmallenberg.... in a farm in the region of Hinojosa del Duque (Cordoba).
A birth abortion case was detaected on a mixed farm of sheep and goats ( 644 sheep and 12 goats) with clinical symptoms of the disease
March 15th 2012 ~ Jim Nicholson MEP (UUP, Northern Ireland) - speech made in the European Parliament in Strasbourg this morning
MEPs have been questioning the European Commission on what steps are being taken to tackle the outbreak of Schmallenberg virus. In a statement Mr. Nicholson said:
“Because of the lack of historical data regarding SBV it is vital that there is collaboration to pool information as this situation develops and I am glad that the EU’s Health Commissioner, John Dalli, has stressed this point.
Vigilance is however also needed by individual Member States and their farmers to help ensure that we minimise the impact of this virus. Detecting and reporting possible symptoms early helps to improve diagnosis and containment plus provides scientists with a greater opportunity to study the virus.
Since the confirmation of the presence of SBV in eastern England the British Veterinary Association has also reiterated its call for increased vigilance amongst the veterinary community. Along with farmers vets are on the frontline in monitoring this situation on the ground and therefore play an important part in helping to ensure that this virus is contained and that we learn as much as possible about its behaviour which ultimately improves how we combat SBV.”
March 15th 2012 ~ Richard Ashworth MEP (Conservative, South East)
Mr Ashworth says international action is needed to help tackle the Schmallenberg virus. "There have now been more than ninety cases in our region, more than anywhere else in the country.... the cases we are seeing now are the result of infections from last year. And with the main lambing season still to come, the full impact of the disease won’t be known for a few more weeks."
March 12th 2012 ~ UK has 158 farms affected
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."
March 12th 2012 ~ Peter Roeder OBE expresses concern to ProMed about imprecise media reporting about Schmallenberg
"I am concerned that some reports in the media give an imprecise explanation of SBV epidemiology and tend to suggest that SBV is transmitting between lambs in affected flocks and spreading between flocks by this means; I would suggest that more needs to be done to ensure that the public is better informed on the epidemiology of this disease. I would also like to make some comments about Europe's vulnerability to virus invasions..."
......One thing is clear -- our vision of the threat posed by the presence of these viruses at the edge of Europe was too complacent by far.
Read in full
Several other viruses are in a similar situation to that of SBV and pose an immediate threat to the livestock of northern Europe. Not least of these are the orbiviruses causing epizootic haemorrhagic disease [EHD] of ruminants, African horse sickness [AHS], and equine encephalosis [EE]. Enhanced surveillance and applied research are surely essential at this time to prepare for the introduction of new vectorborne diseases which now seems inevitable."
March 9th 2012 ~ Antibodies against Schmallenberg virus in 70 per cent of the
dairy cattle population in the Netherlands
ProMed reports that the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI)in the Netherlands has developed a test for the
demonstration of antibodies against SBV.
"Until recently, only a PCR
technique enabled the detection of virus particles in brain material
of deformed newborn calves, lambs, and goats. In contrast to lambs,
many deformed calves were found negative by the PCR test. Serological
examination for antibodies against SBV can indicate with certainty if
animals have undergone infection, despite the fact that the virus
cannot be demonstrated by the PCR technique........
Read in full
..The high prevalence of antibodies against SBV in the dairy cattle
population is indicative of widespread exposure to the virus. It
becomes clear that the number of clinically affected cattle farms and
of affected animals within them, based on the PCR diagnostics in
malformed calves, was grossly underestimated, and this -- most
probably -- not only in Netherlands but also in other SBV-affected
March 4th 2012 ~ Important opinion from an experienced cattle farmer in Germany
As always, we are extremely grateful for genuinely informed comment. Extract:
"..Believe me, nothing can beat hands on examination and good experience.Nearly one and a half farms are now affected throughout the European Union, with Germany the worst at present.
Just one example : Here they enter confirmed cases of SBV into the database without any information about breed, age or farming details so what information should the epidemiologists work with?
In my opinion SBV is not new, has popped up the first time in 2007/2008 and then has been dormant until last year. The fact that dams of affected calves, at least in our region, are rather young (about 3 years, first-second calvers) while older cows produce healthy offspring should make everybody think. You won't find this information in the computers yet it could be of importance once data for the whole country could be compared."
March 2nd 2012 ~ UK cases officially confirmed at 92
See website at telling us that two further cases have been identified in cattle, taking the total seven alongside 85 cases in sheep.
"Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection has been identified on 92 farms. Seven of the positive cases have been diagnosed in cattle, 85 in sheep, and none to date in other species. So far, none of the affected farms have reported importing animals during 2011 from the affected areas in mainland Europe. SBV infection has so far only been identified in areas at risk of midge incursion from Northern Europe during summer / autumn 2011.
The website shows counties and figures
Figures correct as of 2 March 2012
March 2nd 2012 ~ DEFRA does not plan to make Schmallenberg a notifiable disease
Jim Paice, in a statement to the House of Commons, said that giving the virus “notifiable status” was unnecessary because regulation could not control the spread of the disease. However, farmers have said that the disease is being under-reported. In FWi for example, we see that Andrew Foulds, regional chairman of the National Sheep Association (NSA), wants more farmers with animals affected by the Schmallenberg virus to speak out.
"...As long as farmers keep on reporting cases and the ministry works as hard as they can with scientists across Europe, we'll get some answers to this disease," Mr Foulds farms near Mildenhall, Suffolk and has already lost 75 lambs and expects to lose many more. As we say below, one problem is that farmers have come to believe there is a stigma attached to the CBV virus and are too embarrassed to admit they have been affected.
March 2nd 2012 ~ "My heart goes out to anybody's farm who's got this disease because it's so soul destroying to go through the lambing process and not have the live, healthy lambs, at the end of it"
Wroxham Barns Visitor attraction in Norfolk is having to source newborn lambs from outside the county BBC
Figures show 14 farms in Norfolk have so far been affected by the virus.
Speaking to BBC Radio Four's Farming Today, Mrs Calverley said: "We normally get our lambs from six farms in Norfolk, but due to the impact of the virus we're now having to cast our net further afield and pick up lambs from Suffolk and Essex to bring up on the bottle. It's good, in a way. The public see there is a downside to farming. It's not all fluffy lambs and everything born perfect - that's not the real world.
Read in full
I've got farming friends and I've seen how tired, how dejected they are. My heart goes out to anybody's farm who's got this disease because it's so soul destroying to go through the lambing process and not have the live, healthy lambs, at the end of it."
March 1st 2012 ~ Brussels issues warning over SBV trade restrictions
Alistair Driver in FG
"The European Commission has warned countries considering a ban on EU livestock due to the presence of Schmallenberg Virus that trade restrictions would be ‘disproportionate and scientifically unjustified’.
So far only Russia has imposed a ban on livestock trade on the back of the outbreak that has now affected seven EU member states.
But a number of other third countries - possibly as many as 10, according to sources in Brussels - are considering following suit, a move that could have implications for UK farmers, particularly in light of the recent announcement that the UK is now a net exporter of lamb..."
Feb 29th 2012 ~ New Scientist reports that a vaccine is "on its way"
The New Scientist article quotes Martin Beer of the Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Insel Riems, Germany, which first isolated the virus and proved its link to disease.
"Antibodies reveal which animals have been infected. Rapid tests in time for when midges return in spring will show where the virus spreads. An antibody test can also tell researchers when the virus has caused a fetus to be malformed. Right now, that is not clear because the virus itself has cleared by the time the animal is delivered. The tests will also prove which animals are safe for export." It is hoped a vaccine will be fast tracked. Read in full.
February 28th 2012 ~ Dr Ruth Watkins tells the BBC says it is 'inevitable' there will be cases in Wales and warns against culling infected animals since the animal will react to the virus with a "wonderful neutralising antibody immune response"
From the BBC Wales website (Extract)
".....Dr Ruth Watkins warns against culling infected animals as they will become immune.
Some farms in Wales have been tested after more than 80 cases were reported in England....
"Wales may get away with either none or very few infections this year because the extent of spread in the UK seems to be associated with these plumes of midges and mosquitoes that have come over from Europe. It is worrying what will happen next year if the virus reappears here in Britain. I think if the virus reappears in Britain, I think it will be inevitable [that Wales will see cases] next year yes.
She suggested adopting the same process as the Bluetongue disease which is to grow it up in culture, inactivate the virus and make an inactivated virus vaccine.
This seems to be a very competent virus and it's caused this huge outbreak already even though it was only detected for the first time last year...
Dr Watkins described the virus as a "nightmare" for farmers dealing with the Schmallenberg virus as there is no vaccine available.
But she insists culling is not the answer.
"If you are unfortunate to have it this year, keep those animals for next year because the harm comes when the insect bites an animal and they have a primary virus infection and that's what can get passed to a.. foetus. But after that, they make this wonderful neutralising antibody immune response to viruses and it does protect them against such an event again. So that's why you should keep an infected animal.
Read in full
NFU SBV Briefing page...............Johann Tasker's informative video of suspected Schmallenberg cases in UK
February 2012 ~ Schmallenberg virus: technical factsheet
OIE press release (pdf)
ProMed moderator says, "The 4-page OIE technical factsheet on SBV includes 5 chapters: Aetiology, Epidemiology, Diagnosis, Prevention & Control, References.
For subscribers' convenience we present here the chapter "Epidemiology"; subscribers are encouraged to read the other useful chapters at the URL above."
Read Update 18 at ProMed in full
According to the epidemiological investigations, reinforced by what is already known about the genetically related Simbu serogroup viruses, SBV affects domestic ruminants. It is unlikely to be zoonotic. The spatial and temporal distribution suggests that the disease is first transmitted by insect vectors and then vertically in utero.
a. Cattle, sheep, goats
c. No information on the susceptibly of exotic ruminants (camelids, llamas, etc), or other wild ruminants, or on other species. It is worth noting that other viruses of the Simbu serogroup affect wild ruminants and that antibodies to Akabane virus have been found in horses, donkeys, buffalo, deer, camels, and even in pigs. Some viruses of the Simbu serogroup (Mermet, Peaton, and Oropouche viruses) have also been detected in birds.
Mice and hamsters can be infected experimentally.
d. Humans: no human disease related to SBV has been reported in the affected zone so far, and the genetically most related Orthobunyaviruses do not cause disease in humans. Thus current risk assessments conclude that the virus is unlikely to cause disease in humans even if it cannot be fully excluded at this stage. Nevertheless, close collaboration between public health and animal health services is recommended for the early detection of potential human cases, particularly in farmers and veterinarians in close contact with potentially infected animals, and especially during interventions for dystocia.
The transmission of SBV needs to be confirmed but hypotheses have been developed through recent epidemiological investigations and comparison with other Orthobunyaviruses:
a. It is likely to be transmitted via insect vectors (biting midges and/or mosquitoes)
b. Vertical transmission across placenta is proven
c. Direct contamination from animal to animal or animal to human is very unlikely but needs further investigation (1st experiments have been started).
Further research is still needed to confirm these transmission routes and to determine the competent insect species.
3. Viraemia and incubation period
Experimental infection in 3 calves showed mild clinical signs of acute infection at 3 to 5 days post-inoculation and viraemia at 2 to 5 days post-inoculation. No data are available for sheep and goats up to February 2012.
4. Sources of virus
- Source of transmission: likely to be infected insect vectors.
- Material found to be positive in virus isolation (up to February 2012): virus has been isolated from blood from affected adults and infected foetus and brain from infected foetus. [see comment below]
Material found PCR positive (up to February 2012): organs and blood of infected foetuses, placenta, amniotic fluid, meconium.
All these findings have to be further investigated for their role in transmission.
Only some Orthobunyaviruses had been reported in Europe, such as, Tahyna virus from the California serogroup, but viruses from the Simbu serogroup had never been isolated in Europe before.
1st phase: SBV was first detected in November 2011 in Germany from samples collected in summer/autumn 2011 from diseased (fever, reduced milk yield) dairy cattle. Similar clinical signs (including diarrhoea) were detected in dairy cows in the Netherlands where the presence of SBV was also confirmed in December 2011.
2nd phase: in early December 2011, congenital malformations were reported in newborn lambs in the Netherlands, and SBV was detected in and isolated from the brain tissue [see comment below]. Up to February 2012, Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom, and France have reported stillbirth and congenital malformations with PCR positive results.
February 11th 2012 ~ "It might look from this that Schmallenberg virus is definitely here to stay and spread through out Northern Europe. One cannot say without the detailed entomology of virus infection..."
Readers with some scientific knowledge will be interested by the critique written by Dr Ruth Watkins, on the recent EFSA document. It concludes:
"....It might look from this that Schmallenberg virus is definitely here to stay and spread through out Northern Europe. One cannot say without the detailed entomology of virus infection - which is mentioned but not greatly enough emphasised in the EFSA document. I think this needs to be well funded by the EU. It seems to me to be greatly lacking." Read Dr Watkins' critique and the post below about the EFSA document when it appeared.
February 11th 2012 ~ Video: Professor Peter Mertens, head of vector-borne diseases at the Institute for Animal Health
Prof Mertens tells Farmers Weekly about the work being done to tackle the Schmallenberg virus. "We don't know what's going to happen. We don't know what's going to happen next year."
IAH can detect the virus but the problem is the virus has a short viraemic period. Detecting virus outside this period means needing to be able to detect antibodies. Watch the short video at www.fwi.co.uk
February 10th 2012 ~ Reactions of the virologist, Ruth Watkins, after the online discussions
Dr Ruth Watkins, formerly Head of Diagnostic Virology at St Mary's Hospital where she was an Honorary Consultant and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Virology at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Imperial College School of Medicine, London, is currently a sheep farmer in Wales. With her expertise in virology and first hand knowledge of farming, her views are very valuable. Her summary of points:
As usual, we are very grateful to Dr Watkins.
- All those farms on which there has been an outbreak should keep those ewes to breed next year. From experience with Akabane and the use of vaccines it is clear that immunity from the acute and short lasting infection in the adult ewe is strong and likely to provide protection against reinfection. I am not sure if sufficient ewe lambs from this summer will also have been infected on these farms but this may well be so. So these ewe lambs as yearlings put to the ram next year if infected in 2011 or early in the summer of 2012 should not have affected lambs as they will be protected against having the infection whilst pregnant.
- The concept of the susceptible period of the foetus during which a primary infection of the mother ewe will cause death or deformities was not mentioned. It should be. The farmer with her question about lambing ewes in May should have no cause for concern. Even if infected in May there should not be a problem with her lambs. (There is a possibility of meningo-encaphalitis in calves and cattle but we don't know if this will occur with Schmallenberg virus and it only seems to occur with certain strains of the Shamondo viruses, and no comment can be made on this yet. I don't think there is a need to mention it).
- It is clear that lambing in April May would be advisable next year. May would be preferable. It was very mild this year and I am not sure when midges were no longer active but they could certainly have been through November at least. I believe that Pirbirght should be able to answer this. This would mean putting rams in at the start of December. This is such an important point that I am surprised the BVA man has not grasped it. I put my rams in in November but I am going to wait until December next year if the Schmallenberg virus is shown to be active next summer in the UK.
- The best date for cattle pregnancies is going to be a problem. The period of susceptibility of calves in utero is longer than for sheep. Also dairying and so on require Spring and Autumn calving. Probably Autumn calving will be safer than Spring calving.
- There should have been absolute clarity in the answer that no product has been shown to repel midges sufficiently to prevent biting and infection. Again the BVA vet should have been absolutely clear on this- he was corrected by the Belgian farmer. (Where was he during the BTV8 outbreak?)
February 10th 2012 ~ Farmers Guardian have their Schmallenberg web discussion today 1pm.
February 10th 2012 ~ Some of the main points made on the FWi live forum last night
The conversation can still be seen on www.fwi.co.uk/livestock/schmallenberg-virus/schmallenberg-QandA/ advice and information
Read entire conversation on www.fwi.co.uk/livestock/schmallenberg-virus/schmallenberg-QandA/
- Notifiable disease?Ian Davies, head of AHVLA's small ruminants experts group and president of the Sheep Veterinary Society, said there were no plans to make the disease notifiable at present.
- How many in the flock affected A sheep farmer reported that around 12% of his ewes were affected. "This does not include ewes that appear to be 'missing' lambs, ie, triplets having singletons."
- Culicoides survival Peter Jones at the BVA hoped that midge' survival will be curtailed by "h this very cold spread that we are having now"
- No slaughter policy Ian Davies - AHVLA explained that there isn't a slaughter policy for Schmallenberg. (There would be no point even if it were an ethical course of action since infected animals do not themselves infect other animals.)
- livestock movement controls Johann Tasker reported that DEFRA had said it would be unlikely to impose them "On the basis that the cost to the industry would outweigh the benefits, and that there is no vector (midge) activity at present." Peter Jones BVA said movement controls including imports are not going to help because the virus is already present in the UK insect and animal population so the disruption to trade might outweigh the benefits
- Immunity and Infectivity
Peter Jones BVA
said that once immunity is in place it is very strong and the animals once recovered
are not infectious. "Whether it's lifelong is too early to tell. this is something we have to find out about this new virus."
The Belgian farmer reported that at an official meeting on Wednesday in Brussels a Belgian government vet claimed that "they expect sheep to build up immunity to the disease so that SBV can be solved within a couple of years"
- Cattle Peter Jones BVA predicted that when cows that" became pregnant last Autumn begin to calve down in the Spring we anticipate seeing cases of malformed calves as well"
- Deformed lambs - viability The sheep farmer had found that some of the less deformed lambs could be saved and "are thriving" - "provided they are able to stand and suckle they are absolutely fine." He has had a few with "rather wonky legs and deformed jaws but if they can suckle we give them a chance". Some lambs are born blind and obviously brain damaged. "We have had no cause to cull infected ewes as they are healthy and milking well, they do not appear at all unwell."
- Under reporting Peter Jones BVA said that under-reporting is an issue "especially in the early cases where reporting to the World Animal Health Org required locations of affected farms to be identified so farmers were understandably put off reporting . I believe that has now been sorted."
Falko Steinbach,Virology Dept AHVLA, confirmed that the data submitted to OIE do not contain the locations of farms.
- PCR Tests Falko Steinbach said that the AHVLA were working closely with colleagues at Friedrich Loeffel Institute "who have developed the first and now second generation of PCR tests. These are molecular tests detecting traces of the virus. These tests have been established here and at SAC/Moredun in Scotland. "
- Vaccine Peter Jones BVA added that " there is good progress in work having started on vaccine development although it will take about 18 months but this is fast compared to conventional development times." Peter Jones BVA said " we know immunity is very strong and that with effective vaccines does mean we should have a good chance of effective control."
- Cost of tests Falko Steinbach said that at present "we can offer the tests for free, which means that Defra is picking up the costs..we are encouraging farmers to inform our AHVLA offices across the country if they have suspicious cases. .. it might be that we will have to charge at some stage, but this is not my or our decision here in the lab." The sheep farmer said "I suspect that many farmers would not bother even reporting it" if they were charged for tests.
- Protecting animals Peter Jones said it is very difficult until there is a vaccine "because the virus is present in the insect population so the only way would be protection form biting midges - a very big ask really"
- Source Falko Steinbach said that imports were all across the county but since all cases we so far are in the very East of England it seems unlikely that import of animals has played any role. Ian Davies -AHVLA said that some cattle have been imported from infected areas, but "because it is thought that the infectious period for cattle is short, the risk of introducing disease by this method is low".
Ignace, the Belgian farmer, (article) said there is no problem with importing animals now... there is NO circulation of virus at this moment
- Clinical signs Falko Steinbach said clinical signs in adult sheep and cattle are generally mild and were thus often overlooked. "Most, if not to say almost all adult sheep will recover from infection2
- Serological Test Falko Steinbach:"A blood test is available now to see if sheep/cattle are infected. However, outside the midge season this is not reasonable to apply. What we are working on now is a serological test to detect a previous infection. This will take a few weeks and at first work best at herd level, not for individual animals."
- Insecticides/repellents Peter Jones BVA " I was just looking at all the products listed for control of external parasites and there are many but all for ticks and flies but none for Culicoides species...We need to look some more at this. The Belgian farmer, Ignace, said BT8 has shown that using products against midges etc. isn't 100% effective not even 50%
- Spread from infected animals?Falko Steinbach said " we have no indication of a persistent infection in ewes. Ewes infected before have cleared the virus and are immune not able to spread the disease further"
These pages are updating very frequently. Please refresh the page
OIE's weekly disease information, which includes SBV, can be found here
Farmers Guardian Schmallenberg: The Facts Jan 26th 2012
EPIZONE will organize a
Satellite symposium on the topic
after the 6th Annual Meeting EPIZONE in Brighton on 15th June 2012 Keynote speakers will be invited for lectures on all aspects of the Schmallenberg virus, such as diagnostics, vaccine development, epidemiology, and risk assessment. More
December 2011 Risk Assessment pdf. Potential implications for Human Health (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control)