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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 was last updated - 5 July 2017.

The lambing and spring calving seasons in 2017 have now finished.

This is the final update on this webpage. A summary of submissions was provided in the Veterinary Record (2017) Disease surveillance in England and Wales, June 2017. Veterinary Record 181, 11-15.

A survey to investigate the impact of SBV on sheep flocks during the 2016/17 lambing season has also been performed in a partnership of the University of Nottingham, the University of Liverpool and the APHA. Results will be published in due course.

Vets at APHA VICs and non-APHA partner PME providers are available to provide further advice on unusual presentations of disease and APHA may offer farm visits and testing free of charge for unusual cases by prior arrangement with a Veterinary Investigation Officer.

APHA VIC and non-APHA PME contact details can be found on GOV.UK.

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

England

County

Dec 16

Jan 17

Feb 17

Mar 17

Apr 17

May 17

Total

Cheshire   1 1   1   3
Cleveland & Darlington   2         2
Cornwall   4         4
Cumbria   1 12 1     14
Derbyshire     1       1
Devon 4 6 1       11
Dorset 1 1         2
Durham   1 4       5
Gloucestershire       1     1
Herefordshire   2 2 2     6
Isle of Man       1     1
Lancashire   4 6       10
Norfolk   1 1       2
Northamptonshire     1       1
Northumberland   2   1     3
North Yorkshire   8 4 3     15
Shropshire   8 1       9
Somerset 3           3
Staffordhsire   1         1
Suffolk   1         1
West Yorkshire   1         1
Worcestershire   1         1

Total

8

45

34

9

1

0

97

Wales

County

Dec 16

Jan 17

Feb 17

Mar 17

Apr 17

May 17

Total

Anglesey       1     1
Carmarthenshire 1   2       3
Ceredigion   1 3 1     5
Conwy   1 1 1     3
North East Wales   5 3 4     12
North West Wales   1 3 1     5
Pembrokeshire   1         1
Powys   1 7 2     10
South Wales     2       2

Total

1

10

21

10

0

0

42

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Scotland

County

Dec 16

Jan 17

Feb 17

Mar 17

Apr 17

May 17

Total

Dumfries       1     1
Roxburgh     1       1

Total

0

0

1

1

0

0

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 (new)

County

Jan 17

Feb 17

Mar 17

Apr 17

May 17

June 17

Total

Buckinghamshire     1 1     2
Cheshire         1   1
Cleveland         1   1
Cornwall   1 4       5
Cumbria     1 5 5   11
Devon   1 2       3
Dorset     2       2
Durham   3 1 1   2 7
East Riding and North Lincolnshire     1       1
East Sussex     1       1
Hampshire   1 1       2
Hertfordshire       1     1
Herefordshire     1       1
Lancashire         2   2
Norfolk   1 1 2     4
Northumberland     2 4 6   12
North Yorkshire   1 2 1 1   5
Shropshire 1   1       2
Somerset     2       2

Total

1

8

23

15

16

2

65

Scotland (new)

County

Jan 17

Feb 17

Mar 17

Apr 17

May 17

Jun 17

Total

Clackmannanshire           1 1
Dumfries       2 5   6
Roxburghshire       1     1
Scottish Borders       1     1
Wigtownshire         1   1

Total

0

0

0

4

6

 

10

Wales

County

May 17

Total

North West Wales 1 1

Total

1

1


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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.

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 taken from cattle within 3 days of the first showing of clinical signs, or
  • by paired serology with an acute serum sample taken within 3 days of the first showing of clinical signs, and a second serum sample taken 3 weeks after the first.

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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