Its experts say it is possible the virus will die off - but if not, EFSA has predicted it is most likely to re-emerge between mid-April and the end of May and “that any outbreak of SBV is likely to be of a similar size to the one that occurred in 2011”.
The agency warned in a detailed assessment that regions previously unaffected would be more at risk, assuming animals in outbreak zones have developed immunity. “The areas most likely to be affected - should the virus manifest itself again later this year or early in 2013 - would be in regions to the south and east of the previously-affected areas,” said the assessment.
It added that following its first detection in Germany in 2011, 3,745 producers have been hit by SBV with most cases being German, French and Dutch and to a lesser extent Britain and Belgium.
The report said the only means of transmission noted thus far was from mother to offspring through the placenta or via insects such as the biting midge ‘Culicoides obsoletus’. It said the disease has been detected in cattle, sheep, goats and a bison, while its antibodies have been detected in deer.
The agency stressed “it is very unlikely that SBV poses a risk to humans”. Meanwhile, it called for continuing research, given the continuing knowledge gaps.