UK livestock sector warned of 2013 Schmallenberg risk

Animal Health/ Animal Health surgeon news

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued a warning to those in the animal health sector over the possible return of the Schmallenberg virus in 2013.

DEFRA chief vet Nigel Gibbens told Farmers Weekly that a similar number of farms could be hit by the virus next year as was the case during the 2012 lambing and calving season.

The disease is responsible for causing deformations in newborn calves and lambs, with MSD Animal Health currently developing a vaccine to protect against the condition.

It has now spread to almost every rural county in England and is encroaching quickly into Wales and Ireland, which along with the Midlands are expected to be the main impact areas for the virus during the coming breeding season.

Mr Gibbens said: "Surveillance has revealed that Schmallenberg is a fast-moving disease capable of infecting a lot of stock. It is using the midge vector more effectively than bluetongue 8."

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