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Schmallenberg virus update

Background

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) was first identified in 2011 and the disease has spread throughout Europe to Finland in the North, Spain in the South and Turkey in the East.

The first positive SBV case in GB diagnosed in recent months by APHA was in a calf in Cornwall in October 2016. This was followed by four confirmed cases in deformed lambs in the south west of England during December 2016.

APHA Veterinary Investigation Centres (VICs) at Bury St Edmunds, Carmarthen, Penrith, Shrewsbury, Starcross and Thirsk, and our partner post mortem examination (PME) providers at the Wales Veterinary Science Centre and the University of Bristol, together with the University of Liverpool and Farm Post Mortems Ltd, have now all reported stillbirths and foetal deformity in lambs. APHA VICs at Shrewsbury and Penrith have also reported stillbirths and foetal deformity in calves. These have all been confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing that they were due to in utero SBV infection.

This page will be updated fortnightly to show the county and number of affected premises confirmed by APHA. Last updated - 24 March 2017.

Number of premises with confirmed SBV in lambs during winter 2016/17

England

County

Dec 16

Jan 17

Feb 17

Mar 17

Total

Cheshire   2 1   3
Cleveland   2     2
Co Durham   1 5   6
Cornwall   4     4
Cumbria   1 12 1 14
Derbyshire     1   1
Devon 4 6 1   11
Dorset 1 1     2
Gloucestershire       2 2
Herefordshire   2 2 1 5
Isle of Man       1 1
Lancashire   7 4   11
Norfolk   1 1   2
Northamptonshire     1   1
Northumberland   2 1 1 4
North Yorkshire   9 3 2 14
Shropshire   8 1   9
Somerset 3       3
Suffolk   1     1

Total

8

47

33

8

96

Wales

County

Dec 16

Jan 17

Feb 17

Mar 17

Total

Anglesey     1   1
Brecon     1   1
Carmarthenshire 1   1 1 3
Ceredigion   1 2 2 5
Conwy   2 2 2 6
Denbighshire 1 5 2 2 10
Gwynedd     2 1 3
Monmouthshire     1 1 2
Pembrokeshire   1     1
Powys   1 5 3 9

Total

2

10

17

12

41

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Scotland

County

Feb 17

Mar 17

Total

Dumfries   1 1
Roxburgh 1   1

Total

1

1

2

See the SRUC website for further information on Schmallenberg virus in Scotland.

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Number of premises with confirmed SBV in calves during winter 2016/17

England

County

Jan 17

Feb 17

Mar 17

Total

Co Durham   2   2
Cornwall   1   1
Cumbria   1   1
Devon     2 2
Dorset     1 1
Norfolk   2   2
Northumberland     4 4
North Yorksire   1   1
Shropshire 1   1 2
Somerset     2 2
Staffordshire 2     2
Sussex     1 1
Wiltshire   1   1

Total

3

8

11

22

Wales and Scotland

To date, there have been no confirmed cases in calves in Wales or Scotland.


Vets at APHA VICs and non-APHA partner PME providers are available to provide further advice.

While SBV is not a notifiable disease, to help confirm diagnosis during winter 2016/17, APHA may offer testing free of charge for suspect cases by prior arrangement with a Veterinary Investigation Officer. APHA VIC and non-APHA PME contact details can be found on GOV.UK.

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Suspected congenital SBV in sheep and cattle

In sheep and cattle, lambs and calves can be born with congenital deformities including arthrogryposis, torticollis, scoliosis, kyphosis, brachygnathia inferior and various malformations of the brain and spinal cord, including hydranencephaly, porencephaly, microcerebellum and thinning of the anterior and thoracic/lumbar spinal cord.

When investigating foetal lesions, colleagues are reminded to remain alert to the possibility of differential diagnoses other than SBV, including for example, the possibility of hydranencephaly induced by in utero infection with Bluetongue virus - a notifiable disease. If you suspect a notifiable disease, you must contact APHA immediately.

In cases where lamb and calf malformations are identified and SBV is suspected, APHA is currently offering free SBV PCR tests (test code TC0905) on samples of fresh brain from affected animals. A sample of 1cm3 cerebral cortex or alternatively fresh brain stem is required for the test.

Suspected SBV acute disease in cattle

Acute disease due to SBV was reported in late 2016 in mainland Europe, with clinical signs of milk drop, fever, sometimes with diarrhoea. Diagnosis of potential SBV acute disease involvement is by:

  • PCR on EDTA serum taken from cattle within 3 days of the first showing of clinical signs, or
  • by paired serology with a second serum sample taken 3 weeks after the first (with the same timing of the acute sample as above).

Provided differential diagnoses have been ruled out (as far as possible), a maximum of three animals will be tested free of charge.

Prior arrangement with a Veterinary Investigation Officer is required as careful selection of cases is important.

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Last updated: 24 March 2017