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UK approves vaccine against Schmallenberg virus which attacks pregnant cattle and sheep

Wednesday, May 22nd 2013 - 10:28 UTC
Full article 3 comments
The virus emerged in Europe in 2011 and can lead to sheep and cattle having stillborn or deformed offspring The virus emerged in Europe in 2011 and can lead to sheep and cattle having stillborn or deformed offspring

A vaccine to protect sheep and cattle from a virus spread by midges has been approved by UK government vets. The virus, which emerged in the Netherlands and Germany in 2011, can lead to sheep and cattle having stillborn or deformed offspring.

The disease has spread to every county in England and Wales, and was recently reported in Scotland. Schmallenberg virus (SBV) causes fever, diarrhoea and loss of milk production in adult cattle.

The first SBV vaccine, developed by the animal health company Merck MSD, is expected to be available to UK farmers in the summer.

The vaccine is of most use before sheep and cattle become pregnant, as exposure to the virus during pregnancy can cause birth defects in the unborn animal.

Alick Simmons, deputy chief veterinary officer at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said in a statement: “It is welcome news for British farmers to have the choice to vaccinate their animals.

”The vaccine will give extra assurance against this disease on top of the natural immunity we expect sheep and cattle to develop after initial exposure.“

NFU livestock board chairman and sheep farmer, Charles Sercombe, lost 40% of his early lambing flock to the virus. He said the vaccine would give added reassurance to farmers who were concerned about losing lambs to the disease.

”Everybody in farming who wants to use it will welcome it as soon as possible,“ he told BBC News.

”Some flocks need it in the next few weeks to fit in with their breeding programmes.“

Reports from farmers suggest that at least 1,700 farms throughout the UK have now tested positive for the SBV virus. UK farmers will be the first in the EU with access to the vaccine, according to Defra.

Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, said farmers should speak to their vet about the timing of vaccination.

”The decision about whether to vaccinate or not will be down to each individual farmer, their business model, infection history, lambing pattern and location,” he said. (BBC).-

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  • Britworker

    Another great headline from the South American news agency.

    May 22nd, 2013 - 01:26 pm 0
  • Rufus

    Schmallenberg isn't a solely British problem (it was first seen in north-west Germany in 2011 and has been spreading ever since), what makes it a problem is that it is a virus with an insect vector (midges).
    I'm not sure what the range of the average midge is, but it's a fair few miles (minimum 30 if it's made it across the channel), and it's not as if the entire western hemisphere is midge free (the obvious example being Culicoides paraensis - the species that carries Oropouche fever, that is found pretty much everywhere on both continents where the weather isn't cold enough to kill it (so everywhere except Canada). So vaccination in the UK (and everywhere else) is in everyone's interest.

    May 22nd, 2013 - 03:12 pm 0
  • ChrisR

    Excellent news for all farmers everywhere.

    It is very upsetting to see the deformities that this midge borne disease causes, but hopefully not for much longer.

    May 22nd, 2013 - 07:12 pm 0
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