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Health & Welfare Bulletin No.37a : Schmallenberg Virus

SCHMALLENBERG VIRUS - This is a follow up to the alert issued by the Society on the 25 January 2012.

This is a very fast moving virus and more cases are being discovered on a daily basis. To date no reports of camelids have been received by the Authorities either in Europe or the UK. Livestock being reported with the virus in the UK are sheep and cows, with goats being reported in Europe. This may well be because now is the time for lambing and calving. Last weekend a case was found in sheep in Cornwall so the Authorities have made all the South Coast right round to East Anglia a ‘Risk Zone’.

The EU Commission have not made Schmallenberg Virus notifiable but it is reportable, i.e. if you are concerned for the health of your camelid or have any abnormal births or abortions please
tell your vet. The clinical signs are diarrhoea, fever and early abortions. It also causes deformities in unborn animals. It is spread by a vector – midges, which bite your livestock. It is not thought that it can be passed from one animal to another but once an animal is affected with the virus it does spread to the placenta and affect unborn animals.

Foetal deformities vary depending on when the dam was infected during her pregnancy. It is thought that most animals were infected during the very mild Autumn. In sheep it has been found to produce foetus with badly deformed limbs, usually fused together. The ewe will try to give birth, a lot of the time early, but is unable to as either the lamb is mis-presented or it is so badly deformed, it cannot fit into the birth canal.

If you see your camelid in any distress whilst giving birth please do not try to help her but call your vet immediately. The chances are it may well need a caesarean.

There is no vaccine available to fight this virus. It is thought to be short lived within the animal i.e. 2 days, as the host animal can produce antibodies in that time. It also does not survive for long outside either a host or vector. Hopefully there is no long lasting effect on the animals but this is not proven yet. It is thought unlikely to be zoonotic and so far there is no threat to humans, albeit this is not proven.

Vice Chairman BLS & Health & Welfare Representative
Nutfield Park Farm, South Nutfield, REDHILL, Surrey Tel: 01737-823375