Following the analysis of samples obtained by its regional laboratory network, AHVLA has reported the presence of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) on four sheep farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex.

Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) has reported the presence of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) on four sheep farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex.

Photograph of a lamb affected by arthrogryposis (persistent flexion of the joints) – arthrogryposis is one of the congenital abnormalities associated with SBV infection. Image courtesy AHVLA.The agency obtained samples from animals with clinical signs consistent with SBV infection via its regional laboratory network last week.

The samples were analysed in the virology laboratory at AHVLA Weybridge, based on information provided by the Netherlands and the Friedrich Loeffler Institute.

Specific RT-PCR products were detected by two independent means from two different genes of SBV. Along with the sequence information obtained, combined with the clinical picture seen, AHVLA considers this now provides a sufficient level of laboratory confirmation to conclude that SBV has been detected in GB sheep.

An AHVLA spokesman said: “We have finished the initial analysis of samples we have received as a result of our enhanced surveillance for this new disease. We have identified the Schmallenberg virus in some of these samples and as we continue surveillance we may find further cases.

“These samples came from the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex. These counties are in the area that we had identified as potentially being at risk from infected midges blown across the channel from the affected areas and we suspect that this is the most likely cause of transmission.”

With regards to human health, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has stated that, although genetically similar orthobunyaviruses have not caused disease to humans, it cannot be excluded, and the health of farmers and veterinarians in close contact with potentially infected animals should be carefully monitored.

BVA president Carl Padgett said: “The BVA would encourage vets to speak to their local AHVLA, SAC or DARD team to discuss any suspect cases and consider submitting specimens for further investigation.

“We understand that in confirmed cases clinical signs occur in clusters and vets should ensure they know what to look for in both adult and perinatal ruminants.”


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