Uruguay’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has imposed a transitory ban on all genetic material imports from Europe following the outbreak of the disease Schmallenberg which attacks bovines, sheep, goats and buffalos.
The disease reported in several European countries to the World Animal Health Organization, OIE is considered exotic in Uruguay and the region, but it is of quick transmission and can make cows abort or malformations in calves.
In 2011 Uruguay imported 65.626 doses of cattle semen from France, Italy, Holland, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Spain, the majority of which for milk cattle and from the Netherlands.
According to EU research “there are risks of vertical transmissions (cow to calf) of the disease as well as with semen or embryos.
The Uruguayan agriculture resolution considers it necessary to protect the country’s sanitary condition by ensuring that products imported to the country have the adequate quality and do not imply any sanitary risk.
“Taking into account the fact that the EU is developing studies relative to epidemiologic characteristics of the disease with the purpose of implementing effective diagnosis and control measures, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has decided to temporary suspend the access to the country, and transit, of genetic material of species susceptible to the Schmallenberg virus from countries suffering the disease. Only genetic material previous to May first 2011 will be allowed into Uruguay”.
According to reports from Spanish veterinary publications the disease is caused by a new variant of the blue tongue virus and was first detected in Germany, August-September 2011 among milk cattle.
Animals presented unspecific symptoms which in few days turned into high fever, over 40 C, loss of appetite and body mass, and a drop of up to 50% in milk production. In breeding cows transmission was trans-placenta with abortions and malformations.
A team of OIE experts concluded that the risk for humans is minimum. They also confirmed that the Schmallenberg virus has a short living period in which it advances and reproduces in the infected animal blood system. Propagation is helped by mosquitoes, biting flies and midges.
Regarding trade of meats and dairy produce, “the risk is insignificant”.
Until last 20 February 363 outbreaks were reported to OIE, in five countries, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and UK. The positive disease animals include 1.567 sheep, 12 bovine and 15 goats.