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Schmallenerg Virus Update

Recently completed research by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the Institute for Animal Health (AH) has confirmed that Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) is again circulating in the UK, and it appears that the virus has overwintered in infected insects (midge and possibly mosquitoes).   This means that susceptible animals will be at risk of infection from infected midges for the rest of the year.   
The RVC, having carried out tests on Alpacas reported: "We also found two of our 10 alpacas had it as well, though none showed clinical signs - we believe this is the first time it has been found in alpacas.”

It is believed that animals that has SBV last year are likely to be immune, and it is known that healthy animals recover quickly from infection without lasting harm, so the main risk is when non-immune animals are infected in early pregnancy, as the virus can damage the developing foetus.   So the main risk will be to early pregnant animals that have not been exposed to SBV before. 

Although companies are developing vaccines, none are yet available, nor likely to be this year.    AHVLA now have a blood antibody test to test previous exposure.  Antibodies don't pass through the placenta to camelid crias: this is why ingestion of colostrum is so important as crias are born without any of their own antibodies and
have to acquire them from colostrum.   If camelids have antibodies they will pass them on in the colostrum: the value of this will depend how long it is since they were infected since antibodies will decline after exposure. 
The clinical signs are diarrhoea, fever and early abortions but camelids have a habit of not showing they are ill so a keen eye on your animals is what is required.
If you have any worries, contact your vet.

From: Liz Butler, BLS Health & Welfare Co-ordinator

Schmallenberg Virus

Schmallenberg update

(Talk given by IAN NANJANI – Westpoint Vet and Research Consultant

2 Syndromes: (we are talking mainly about sheep but very similar in other livestock)

    Fever +40°C (102.5F)
    Impaired general condition
    Recovery: few days for individual animals and 2 to 3 weeks for a flock/herd

    • Deformities
    Twisted limbs and spine
    Brain abnormalities
    Undershot jaw

    Within days, infected animals produce antibodies
    Although there are three stages of pregnancy, early, middle and late, it is thought the SBV effects foetus in the early stage.
    No healthy babes have been found to be viremic.
    Aborted lambs have been found to be viremic.

    If the female is infected prior to mating, the immune system will kick in to protect foetus (as long as it is a few days after midge infected bite)
    If male has fever, do not mate until back to normal.

    It is thought the damage to foetus occurs in the first trimester – normally 1st month after pregnancy in sheep, 1 to 2 months in cattle.

    It is thought the midge was blown over from Europe during Sept/Oct 11.

    We, in the UK, are in the last few weeks of lambing but are only just starting calving. A better picture regarding sheep will be drawn up when lambing has finished and all reported cases are analysed. The same will stand for cattle.
    There is no vaccine yet but three companies are working on producing a vaccine and have already started testing. It usually takes 2 to 3 years to produce a vaccine !
    As far as we know, there is only one serotype of this virus.
    Please report ALL abnormalities to your vet so a clearer picture can been seen.

    Since the BT outbreak 3to 4 years ago, the European and British Animal Health departments have been working very closely together. The Germans have taken the lead in the SBV but passing all their info on the everyone else in Europe.

    Further Info:

    Health & Welfare Bulletin No.37a : Schmallenberg Virus

    SCHMALLENBERG VIRUS - This is a follow up to the alert issued by the Society on the 25 January 2012.

    This is a very fast moving virus and more cases are being discovered on a daily basis. To date no reports of camelids have been received by the Authorities either in Europe or the UK. Livestock being reported with the virus in the UK are sheep and cows, with goats being reported in Europe. This may well be because now is the time for lambing and calving. Last weekend a case was found in sheep in Cornwall so the Authorities have made all the South Coast right round to East Anglia a ‘Risk Zone’.

    The EU Commission have not made Schmallenberg Virus notifiable but it is reportable, i.e. if you are concerned for the health of your camelid or have any abnormal births or abortions please
    tell your vet. The clinical signs are diarrhoea, fever and early abortions. It also causes deformities in unborn animals. It is spread by a vector – midges, which bite your livestock. It is not thought that it can be passed from one animal to another but once an animal is affected with the virus it does spread to the placenta and affect unborn animals.

    Foetal deformities vary depending on when the dam was infected during her pregnancy. It is thought that most animals were infected during the very mild Autumn. In sheep it has been found to produce foetus with badly deformed limbs, usually fused together. The ewe will try to give birth, a lot of the time early, but is unable to as either the lamb is mis-presented or it is so badly deformed, it cannot fit into the birth canal.

    If you see your camelid in any distress whilst giving birth please do not try to help her but call your vet immediately. The chances are it may well need a caesarean.

    There is no vaccine available to fight this virus. It is thought to be short lived within the animal i.e. 2 days, as the host animal can produce antibodies in that time. It also does not survive for long outside either a host or vector. Hopefully there is no long lasting effect on the animals but this is not proven yet. It is thought unlikely to be zoonotic and so far there is no threat to humans, albeit this is not proven.

    Vice Chairman BLS & Health & Welfare Representative
    Nutfield Park Farm, South Nutfield, REDHILL, Surrey Tel: 01737-823375

    Health & Welfare Bulletin No. 37 : Schmallenberg Virus

    What appears to be a new virus has been discovered in the North Rhein Westphalia district of the west of Germany, and in Holland.  It has been named Schmallenberg virus after the small town where it was first discovered.

    Outbreaks of disease were originally seen in cattle last August. Clinical signs exhibited by affected cattle included
    fever, reduced milk yields, inappetance, weight loss and diarrhoea: since November, there have been reports in sheep (and, to a lesser extent, cattle and goats) of abortion, still-births and congenital abnormalities. These congenital abnormalities have included limb contractures, brain abnormalities and twisted neck: no clinical signs were reported affecting dams of these offspring. No cases of the disease have been reported in camelids, and it is unknown whether or not they can be affected.

    Research on the virus is still in its early stages but the virus is thought to belong to the genus
    Orthobunyavirus: this group includes the Akabane virus and although antibodies to Akabane virus have been found in camels, it is not known whether or not it causes disease (Al Busaidy et al, 1988; Davies & Jessett, 1985). Viruses of this genus are spread by arthropod vectors – midges and mosquitoes. No information is available for viruses of this group affecting South American Camelids. Therefore it is unknown whether or not they are likely to be affected with clinical disease. It is certainly possible that they are susceptible.

    It has to be stressed that this virus has
    not yet been detected in the UK. There is potential for it to come to the UK via windborne spread of athropod vectors that carry the virus (as occurred with Bluetongue), or potentially via imported animals. Disease surveillance is ongoing and keepers of livestock are being urged to monitor for signs of disease and consult with their vet in case of concern.

    AHVLA have asked that if  any ruminants  imported from anywhere in Europe during 2011 abort, or have stillborn or deformed offspring, please report the matter to your local AHVLA laboratory, or SAC laboratory if in Scotland.  In England, ruminant samples will be taken for testing free of charge, although as tests for the disease are still under development, results will not be known immediately. Be sure to check with your local office whether charges will apply for camelids before submitting any crias for testing. In Scotland, the normal SAC charges will apply.

    Similarly, if  there are ANY aborted foetuses or stillborn animals which match the pattern of deformities described, please discuss them with AHVLA to see if samples should be taken for investigation, in particular if born to dams who had what would have been an undiagnosable fever in the late summer or early autumn. Again, to avoid embarrassment, discuss what charges might be made, if any, when discussing things with AHVLA.



    Since this virus has only just been identified and the epidemiology and pathogenesis of the disease is far from known, this situation is evolving and further information will be forthcoming as more research is done. AHVLA will keep updating the information available on their website as more becomes known. [].
    It will be particularly important for us in the UK later in the year when we shall see if infected midges have crossed the North Sea, and this will depend on weather patterns during the summer.  However it is POSSIBLE that infected midges could have crossed to England during 2011 although there were only a few days where this was considered to have been a possibility. As yet there is no evidence of this having happened, but please be on the lookout.  This is a new disease, and hopefully we will develop a far better understanding of the epidemiological risk to the UK over the next 12 months.

    Please do not panic. This is a very new virus and as previously stated, there have been no cases notified in Camelids but it is better to be aware of the unfolding situation.
    I would like to acknowledge the following vets for assisting in producing this report:
    Claire E Whitehead BVM&S MS DACVIM MRCVS, President British Veterinary Camelid Society
    Nick Clayton, MRCVS

    Vice Chairman BLS & Health & Welfare Representative
    Nutfield Park Farm, South Nutfield, REDHILL, Surrey Tel: 01737-823375

    NOTE: 23 January 2012
    The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency has confirmed that tests on animals on four sheep farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex had detected Schmallenberg Virus.
    Please report any abnormalities in your herd to your vet.