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
With thanks to Axel Bührmann, orazal, lucianvenutian, Veronique Debord, quinn.anya for creative commons use of pictures