This past Monday, multiple farms in the United Kingdom reported an outbreak of the new Schmallenberg virus (SBV). The BBC News has taken a look into this new concern.
This new livestock disease was first discovered in the Netherlands last year, and has now been spotted in the sheep populations of three farms. The farms, located in Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex, have had their sheep tested by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA). The AHVLA and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) believe that the cause of the infection comes from infected midges which blew across the Channel.
Very little is known about the disease at present, but research is ongoing. The lambs which were found to be infected were either stillborn or died shortly after being born. The farmers who owned the infected animals reported that it seemed similar to the bluetongue disease, which is also spread by midges. There is question though, as to whether the cause of the infection is truly midges, or from livestock that was imported.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control do not believe that this disease will be infectious in humans.
Farmers in the region are asked to stay vigilant. There is currently no vaccine for this new infection, so preventative measures should be taken, and farmers should avoid importing livestock from infected regions of Europe.