Schmallenberg – livestock breeders are urged to be vigilant
With lambing already underway for some early lambing flocks, the impact of the Schmallenberg virus appears to be greater than originally predicted, with some commercial flock owners reporting losses as high as 60% in some cases.
According to figures published by Defra, a total of 1211 holdings had been affected by mid January.
The virus can have a devastating impact on unborn lambs. The AHVLA website states that..”malformations observed to date include bent limbs and fixed joints twisted neck or spine, a domed appearance to the skull, short lower jaw and brain deformities...the foetal deformities vary depending on when infection occurred during pregnancy. In adult cows the acute infection resulted in diarrhoea, fever, a reduction in milk yield, with a full and rapid recovery over several days”.
In some cases ewes may give birth to one deformed lamb and one normal lamb.
Schmallenberg Virus is not a notifiable diseasebut breeders are advised tocontact their veterinary surgeon if they encounter cases of ruminant neonates or fetuses which are stillborn.
A Europe-wide risk assessment has concluded that Schmallenberg virus is very unlikely to cause illness in people.
Livestock keepers are reminded of the importance of maintaining strict bio-security.
Pregnant women should not have contact with sheep and goats at lambing/kidding time due to risks of exposure to disease causing organisms.
Further information may be found at