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Schmallenberg virus “worrying”, says OIE

By Melodie Michel , 23-Jan-2012
Last updated on 23-Jan-2012 at 12:46 GMT2012-01-23T12:46:39Z

Schmallenberg virus “worrying”, says OIE

The recently discovered Schmallenberg virus, causing abortion and fetal abnormalities in ruminants, needs to be monitored closely according to World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) director Bernard Vallat.

“It is rather worrying. We need to wait and see, as for the moment we do not have enough perspective or enough cases to draw conclusions, but we need to follow that closely,” he told GlobalMeatNews.

The Schmallenberg virus was first observed in Germany and the Netherlands in summer 2011 and has now spread to Belgium. Symptoms include fever (over 40˚C), inappetance and diarrhoea, and generally disappear after a few days. The virus is transmitted by insects, and infections of early stages on foetuses can cause abortion or congenital disorders.

“It’s a virus that is very close to bluetongue disease, which caused serious damage in Europe a few years ago, and just like that virus, it targets small ruminants rather than bovines. [However] this virus does not seem to spread as fast as bluetongue did,” Vallat added.

The OIE is in contact with affected countries and regularly publishes information on the disease. In the UK, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and various veterinary bodies have called for vigilance among their members, especially those who have imported livestock from the affected areas.

In total, deformation and congenital disorders were reported on 29 farms in Belgium, 177 in the Netherlands and 26 in Germany.

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