Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Concern over Outbreak of Disease Grows; Signs of Schmallenberg Virus Expected at Lambing Season

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Concern over Outbreak of Disease Grows; Signs of Schmallenberg Virus Expected at Lambing Season

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Phillips ? 0191 201 6262 ? jnl.newsdesk@ncjmedia.co.uk

ALIVESTOCK disease which causes severe birth deformities in sheep and cattle is expected to appear in the North East this spring.

The Government's chief vet has told The Journal he believes it is now inevitable that parts of Northumberland and Durham will be hit by the Schmallenberg virus.

The disease causes late abortion or birth defects in newborn cattle, sheep and goats and antibodies to the disease have already been detected in one case each in Durham and Northumberland.

Last night the regional NFU branch said it was braced for a hopefully limited but still concerning outbreak of the disease when lambing begins next year. Schmallenberg was first detected earlier this year and has slowly spread across the UK. While adult animals tend to recover unharmed from the disease those which catch it during pregnancy are at risk of giving birth to offspring with severe deformities.

In those infected, calves and lambs have been born with malformations of the limbs, damaged spinal cord and fused joints. Some animals born without deformations develop problems with their nervous system.

Adult cows suffer fever, reductions in milk yield and diarrhoea, which can affect their body weight and so their value. Adult cattle tend to recover after several days, however, and it is not lethal. There are no clinical symptoms in adult sheep.

Defra said the evidence currently suggests that the disease was brought into the UK from infected midges blown across the Channel. There is no cure, although work is ongoing to provide a vaccine.

Nigel Gibbens, chief veterinary officer at Defra, said it is likely most flocks in the England and Wales have in some ways been infected with the disease, with anywhere of up to 5% of newborn lambs lost as a result. …

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