Friday, February 24, 2012

New livestock virus appears to be rapidly spreading in Europe (Schmallenberg virus)

Warm weather may increase Schmallenberg spread

 Midges infected with the Schmallenberg virus could become active earlier than predicted as the unseasonably warm, dry weather continues, according to the Institute of Animal Health.

Gefährlicher Erreger: Schmallenberg-Virus in 1000 deutschen Ställen - weiter lesen auf FOCUS Online:
 USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is taking action to mitigate the entry of Schmallenberg virus, a pathogen that has been reported from a number of European Union  countries since late 2011 but is not known to exist in the United States.

“Schmallenberg virus is thought to be spread by insect vectors and affects several species of ruminants. While live ruminants are not currently eligible for importation from the EU, the United States does import bovine germplasm (semen and embryos) and is negotiating a protocol for ovine and caprine germplasm. Although not known at this time, it is possible the virus may be present in germplasm and infective to recipient animals.

“After reviewing the situation, APHIS has decided to place restrictions on the imports of bovine, ovine, and caprine germplasm from the EU. These restrictions may be adjusted as more information about the virus becomes available.

Schmallenberg: Scientists outline the long-term prospects 8 March 2012

There is general consensus that SBV reached the currently infected counties of eastern and southern England via midges, blown over from infected parts of mainland Europe during the summer and autumn of 2011.

But one very big difference is evidence from mainland Europe shows ‘a high density of local spread’, with 75-100 per cent of animals infected on some farms. In contrast only a small number of animals were infected by Bluetongue when the virus struck in England in 2007. 

“An alternative, and perhaps more likely explanation, is that Schmallenberg has been with us for some time, but was not noticed. It may even have been present in the UK at or before the time that the virus was first discovered last August in Germany,” he said.

Schmallenberg virus: Climate 'raising UK disease risk'

One part of the puzzle that scientists have put together is the influence of climate change on the risks of midge-borne viral diseases.

A higher temperature means an increase in the number of midges, and that they feed more often. It also allows the virus to develop faster.

Using weather and climate models as well as information on the biology of viruses and midges, Prof Baylis's research group showed that recent climatic change in northern Europe has significantly increased the risk of viral midge-borne diseases.

"Temperature changes in Europe which to most of us have felt relatively small have in our model led to a large increase in the risk of viral midge-borne diseases," he said.

Schmallenberg virus could spread to sheep across the UK

virus would be more likely to spread if midges were not the only way it infected animals. "The very high prevalence of infection on some farms – up to 100% of animals – raises an interesting question: is there some other form of local spread, such as oral-fecal spread, or aerosol?"

Schmallenberg virus is the second midge-borne disease known to have invaded the UK, with bluetongue virus having arrived in 2007. Baylis pinned the blame on climate change. "The spread of bluetongue virus was driven entirely by the temperature changes in Europe," he said. "Our changing climate is making it more likely these things happen."

Bluetongue virus was first identified in Europe in the 1920s but was confined to southern Spain and Turkey until the 1990s, only reaching northern Europe in 2006 and the UK in 2007. Baylis believes other new diseases could arrive in the UK as a result of a climate change.

UK- Schmallenberg virus cases reach 83- 27 Feb 2012

From The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI)[the national research center for animal health in Germany.]

Current Information on ‛Schmallenberg virus’

last updated 27th February 2012

In Germany animals from 751 holdings have been tested positiv for ‛Schmallenberg virus’ so far. The cases occurred in 49 cattle holdings, 665 sheep holdings and 37 goat holdings. Affected federal states are North Rhine-Westphalia (25 cattle, 236 sheep, 11 goat holdings), Lower Saxony (10 cattle, 106 sheep, 5 goat holdings), Hesse (1 cattle, 81 sheep holdings, 5 goat holdings), Schleswig-Holstein (6 cattle, 84 sheep, 1 goat holdings), Rhineland-Palatinate (1 Bison, 3 cattle, 35 sheep, 4 goat holdings), Baden-Wuerttemberg (2 cattle, 15 sheep, 5 goat holdings), Brandenburg (15 sheep holdings), Thuringia (25 sheep holdings, 2 goat holdings), Saxony-Anhalt (19 sheep holdings, 2 goat holding), Hamburg (1 cattle, 5 sheep holdings), Bavaria (14 sheep holdings), Saxony (22 sheep holdings), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (5 sheep holdings, 1 goat holding), Saarland (2 sheep holdings, 1 goat holding) and Berlin (1 sheep holding).

The Netherlands, Belgium , the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Luxemburg have also reported cases of ‛Schmallenberg virus’, mostly in sheep.

Table: Confirmed case numbers on the stocks concerned, 27th February 2012; source: TSN
Federal state Cattle Sheep Goat Total
Schleswig-Holstein 6 84 1 91
Hamburg 1 5
Lower Saxony 10 106 5 121
North Rhine-Westphalia 25 236 11 272
Hesse 1 81 5 87
Rhineland-Palatinate 4 (1 Bison) 35 4 43
Baden-Wuerttemberg 2 15 5 22
2 1 3
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
5 1 6
Saxony Anhalt
19 2 21
25 2 27
Total 49 665 37 751

In November 2011, the FLI has first detected a virus of the genus Orthobunyavirus in cattle in Germany. Comparative analyses of the genetic material lead to the assumption that the virus belongs to the Simbu serogroup (Shamonda, Aina, Akabane viruses). The virus could be isolated, cultivated and replicated. Based on the geographic origin of the sample, the virus was provisionally named ‛Schmallenberg virus’.

FLI developed a detection method that has been made available to institutions in Belgium, France, England, the Netherlands, Italy and in Switzerland.
It is still unclear whether this exotic virus has been newly introduced or whether orthobunyaviruses already have been present in ruminants in Europe for some time. Therefore, further investigations are necessary to assess this virus detection.

Orthobunyaviruses of cattle are widely distributed in Oceania, Australia and Africa and, as a rule, initially cause very mild clinical symptoms. If pregnant animals are infected, however, temporarily delayed, sometimes considerable congenital damages, premature births and reproductive disorders may occur. Akabane-like viruses are mainly transmitted by biting midges. These viruses which are relevant in cattle do not represent a risk for humans. They are no zoonotic agents. Due to the relationship of ‛Schmallenberg virus’ with Shamonda, Aino, and Akabane virus, a risk for humans is not to be expected (also see risk assessment of the European Center for Disease Prevention)

Schmallenberg livestock virus hits 74 farms in England -

More countries hit by Schmallenberg virus - Thursday February 23 2012

Confirmed cases of the Schmallenberg virus continue to rise across Europe, with Italy and Luxembourg joining the list of countries affected by the disease.

France Update:

Virus Schmallenberg - 25 departments and 3 affected cattle farms in France

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, on February 16, 152 farms in 25 districts are contaminated with the infectious agent.

 In Europe, more than 1,000 farms have been manifest symptoms of the virus include fever, drop in production and birth defects.

Translated - Virus Schmallenberg - Europe is on the alert and in France, 18 departments are affected


The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published on 8 February a report on possible scenarios for the spread of new virus Schmallenberg. Thus, temperatures conducive to the development of the insect vector into livestock areas would contribute to the spread of the virus.

 According to the Ministry of Agriculture, on 10 February, the virus was confirmed on Schmallenberg lambs in 44 new farms. In total 94 farms that are affected

Spread of Schmallenberg virus expected to slow
German experts report that infected sheep become immune to the virus. “They will later give birth to healthy lambs,” Director Rolf Allmann of the veterinary health authorities in the German town of Münster said on Wednesday. As a result, the number of stillbirths will gradually decrease.

Pregnant animals passed the virus on to their unborn lambs in the autumn, but later developed antibodies.

Kinda good news but also not so much as they are expecting the virus to become endemic, after significant losses and still are not too sure about its implications. 

A previously undocumented  virus apparently spread by midges and possibly mosquitoes  that appears to cause birth defects in cows, goats and sheep is spreading in Europe. It remains to be seen whether the birth-defects and deformities are a reoccurring condition or an aspect of initial infection. Regardless initial losses of newborn animals are high and losses in production are significant.

In outbreaks of a closely related virus; Akabane, in the middle east, deformities were seem in the young of animals that acquired the virus during pregnancy. After the animals acquired immunity the deformities in offspring ceased.

 The virus in question belongs to the Bunyaviridae family, genus Orthobunyavirus and has been tentatively named "Schmallenberg virus". This virus belongs to a vector-transmitted group of viruses making direct transmission from animal to animal unlikely. However, vertical transmission from dam to newborn via the intrauterine route does occur as with other similar viruses. This group of viruses very often are associated with mild clinical signs of disease or with subclinical infection in ruminants.

 There is no evidence that the Schmallenberg virus could cause illness in humans. The Member States and the Commission took note of the preliminary assessment carried out by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the zoonotic risks of the Schmallenberg virus which indicates that "it is unlikely that this virus can cause disease in humans, but it cannot be completely excluded at this stage".

From  Statement on the Schmallenberg Virus Situation


New Animal Virus Takes Northern Europe by Surprise

The first cases of lambs with congenital malformations such as hydrancephaly—where parts of the brain are replaced by sacs filled with fluid—and scoliosis (a curved spine) appeared before Christmas. "Now, in some herds 20% to 50% of lambs show such malformations," Mettenleiter says. "And most of these animals are born dead."

The virus, provisionally named "Schmallenberg virus" after the German town from which the first positive samples came, was detected in November in dairy cows that had shown signs of infection with fever and a drastic reduction in milk production. Now it has also been detected in sheep and goats, and it has shown up at dozens of farms in neighboring Netherlands and in Belgium as well.

Scientists are bracing for many more cases to appear, especially in cattle, because bovine fetuses infected in summer 2011 would be expected to be born in February and March.

Now its already confirmed spreading in the UK. 

From ProMed:


All 3 genome segments (S, M, and L) of the SBV have been completely (S and L) or partially (M) sequenced. All 3 segments show that the virus is clearly identified as a representative of the genus _Orthobunyavirus_. The highest homologies are obtained for the orthobunyaviruses of the Simbu serogroup. However, since sufficient sequences for comparison are available in the data bank only for the S segment, further, more detailed classification could be based only on the S segment. The S segment of SBV has been found to have the highest homology (96 percent of the amino acid level) with the Shamonda virus. The virus is therefore provisionally classified as "a Shamonda-like" virus.

Simbu serogroup viruses are mostly found in Asia, Australia, and Africa. According to literature, they are only very rarely associated with clinical symptoms. An exception is their potential to induce congenital defects, such as the ones caused by the Akabane virus. Potential to cause congenital damage in ruminants may be attributed to other members of the Simbu serogroup. Pathogenicity for humans, though rare, has been reported (such as the Oropouche virus). Simbu serogroup viruses are primarily transmitted by insect vectors (midges, mosquitoes). The infection is not contagious. Viruses of the Simbu serogroup have not been previously detected in Europe.

Risk Profile Humaan Schmallenbergvirus:

Clinical manifestation of orthobunyaviruses in human.

Currently, Schmallenberg virus has not been related to human disease.
Shamonda-, Aino-, and Akabane-virus which are genetically most related to the
Schmallenberg virus are only found in livestock. However, zoonotic potential of this virus cannot be excluded as 

1) Viruses within the Simbu serogroup (Oropouche virus and Iquitos virus)
are known to be zoonotic and cause human outbreaks (13).

2) Genetic reassortment among members of the same serogroup within the Orthobunyavirus genus occurs in nature and has led to the emergence of new viruses, occasionally with increased pathogenicity. This may increase the zoonotic potential of these viruses as reassortment might lead to change of host reservoirs (14-17).

3) Viruses within other serogroups of the genus orthobunya are zoonotic. Examples: California encephalitis virus, La Crosse encephalitis virus, Tahyna virus, Bataivirus, Inkoovirus, Snowshoe hare virus.

Human diagnostics.

Currently there is no serology available for Schmallenberg virus. A commercially available test for detection of antibodies to Akabane virus did fail to detect antibodies in serum from Schmallenberg virus infected cattle (Beer , pers. comm.). This indicates that serological tests that are currently available for
Simbu serogroup viruses might not be applicable for Schmallenbergvirus .

Number of confirmed cases rising:

Germany has 106 confirmed cases - a five-fold increase in the past seven days (23 January to 30 January). Statistics for The Netherlands show that 349 farms have reported symptoms, a 50% increase on numbers reported on 25 January. Of those, 87 cases have been confirmed with the disease and 71 are still under investigation. The remainder have proved inconclusive.

In Belgium 285 farms have been tested and cases found to date on 62 units. France has now also reported two incidences while the UK remains at four confirmed cases in the south and east of England.

Testing begins in Scotland:

Scientists from Moredun Research Institute near Edinburgh have announced that they will be screening all suspect cases of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) found in Scotland.

Four cases of SBV have been found in lambs in the South East of England in the last week, but no cases been identified in Scotland at this time. Insect movements from the Belgium and Netherlands coasts in the autumn are considered the most likely source of the English cases, none of which are in imported animals. However, infection could also be introduced by imported pregnant animals which were exposed in the autumn. Livestock imported into the UK from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands (where infected animals have been found) should therefore be monitored carefully.

References and narrative accounts in approximate chronological order:

New virus from Africa and Oceania spreads in German cattle Nov 21, 2011,

Risk Profile Humaan Schmallenbergvirus - 21 december 2011


New orthobunya virus detected in cattle in Germany SCOFCAH Brussels6 December2011 - presentation

Statement on the Schmallenberg Virus Situation Issued bythe Standing Committee on the Food Chain and AnimalHealth (SCoFCAH) – 11 January 2012

Risk assessment: New Orthobunyavirus isolated from infected cattle and small livestock ─ potential implications for human health

New Animal Virus Takes Northern Europe by Surprise

International disease monitoring UK

Schmallenberg virus confirmed on farms in the UK - Monday 23 January 2012 10.52 EST

Schmallenberg Virus: results of UK testing

Schmallenberg Virus: Updated 23 January 2012

Schmallenberg virus found in two calves - 23-01-2012

Epidemiological update: Schmallenberg virus isolated from infected cattle and small livestock in the European Union, potential implications for human health - 25 Jan 2012

France - first French case of virus detected in Lorraine Schmallenberg - 26/01/2012

CDC - EID Journal Ahead of Print / In Press - Volume 18, Number 3—March 2012 - Novel Orthobunyavirus in Cattle, Europe, 2011 - January 26, 2012

UK Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories - 27 January: Advice to pregnant women to avoid close contact with animals that are giving birth - Its given as a reminder without specific mention of any particular infection.

A quick guide to Schmallenberg virus - Farmers weekly - Friday 27 January

France - Virus Schmallenberg: 4 confirmed cases in Haute-Marne - 28/01/2012

Scotland - Moredun Provide Schmallenberg Virus Screening - 30 Jan 2012

Schmallenberg cases rising in Europe - 30 January 2012

ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES USDA Schmallenberg Virus Found in Cattle- 30 Jan

Netherlands - Schmallenberg Virus Found In Two Calves

UK Schmallenberg virus (SBV) cases rise to 11

Russia extends sheep import ban to France and UK

Spread of Schmallenberg virus expected to slow - Feburary 1st

Schmallenberg vaccine 'years away' - 02 February 2012

USDA Schmallenberg virus found in cattle_The Hague_Netherlands EU-27_1-30-20122/3/2012

Fast-Spreading Animal Virus Leaps Europe, UK Borders - 7 feb

Breaking news: Schmallenberg trebles in UK - 07 February 2012

Livestock virus at 96 Dutch farms - 9 February 2012 -

Virus Schmallenberg - Europe is on the alert and in France, 18 departments are affected - 13/02/2012

94 French Farms Struck by New 'Schmallenberg' Virus 14 February 2012

UK Schmallenberg cases rise to 40 - 2/14/2012

Incurable Virus Killing Thousands Of Lambs 2/17/12

Rapid action needed to tackle Schmallenberg - now nearly 800 confirmed cases across five European countries - 2/17/2012

First Case of Deadly Schmallenberg Virus in Cornwall - February 18, 2012

France - Virus Schmallenberg - 25 departments and 3 affected cattle farms in France 21/02/2012

UK Virus could spell disaster as lambing season looms - 21/02/2012

More countries hit by Schmallenberg virus (Italy and Luxembourg) February 23 2012

Schmallenberg Virus Restrictions for Imported Ruminant Germplasm - Feb 23

Schmallenberg livestock virus hits 74 farms in England - 27 February 2012

Current Information on ‛Schmallenberg virus’ - From The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut- 27 February 2012
UK- Schmallenberg virus cases reach 83- 27 Feb 2012

UK Isle of Wight Farmers Report Schmallenberg Infection 27 feb

Climate change could make livestock disease more common - including the Schmallenberg virus- 28 February 2012

NASDAQ - Morning Cattle Market Report (beef production this year is expected to drop from the first quarter for the first time in at least 21 years.) 2/28

Vaccine for deadly sheep virus is on its way- 29 February 2012

Schmallenberg virus: Climate 'raising UK disease risk' - 1 March 2012

Schmallenberg virus could spread to sheep across the UK - 1 March 2012

820 German farms hit by virus-2012-03-03
The Schmallenberg Virus Raises New Concerns About Food Safety- Mar 5 2012,
Russia bans European cattle and hog imports because of Schmallenberg virus March 5th 2012 

SBV on 121 UK farms-05 Mar 2012

Animal Import News Update Schmallenberg Virus Restrictions APHIS -6 Mar

Schmallenberg: Scientists outline the long-term prospects 8 March 2012
Update No.6 on Schmallenberg Virus in Northern Europe 11th March 2012

Schmallenbergvirus in Danish insects 12 Mar 2012 - via translation

First Case of Schmallenberg in Spain, March 14, 2012

Is Schmallenberg virus a US concern? March 14, 2012

Virus, drought inject caution into EU feed sector - 14th March 2012

EU must take action against Schmallenberg virus- 15 March 2012

Russia Suspends Livestock Imports From EU Countries - March 20

Scientists confirm Schmallenberg spread by midges 26 March 2012 

Warm weather may increase Schmallenberg spread 28 March 

Human sera, PCR, Germany - no evidence of human infection 2 april

Germany makes Schmallenberg a notifiable disease 3 April 2012


  1. This looks like a pretty bad siuation. I imagine both the CDC the USDA will move rather quickly on this if they have not already.

  2. In the Dutch news they seem to think it is just a problem if its acquired around when a animal becomes pregnant – then its not an issue after it becomes immune I would assume they are thinking.

    I dont know it the science supports that conclusion yet and the Russians have issued a import ban (quarantine.)

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  3. On CP this very interesting link was posted as a possible spread mechanism across the channel. [ ]

  4. The speed of transmission and deformities are disturbing. Also that it is spreading among different species. I hope it doesn't infect people as well.

  5. The French are downplaying it in their press - but I also note they have made reporting it mandatory in some regions. I would not mess around with this. Too many unknowns and the outcomes can be horrific and rather large in incidence.

  6. Dalli: No hasty actions against the virus Schmallenberg

    While taking the EU Member States growing national measures against the virus Schmallenberg, warns EU health commissioner John Dalli against short-circuit reactions.

    Dalli promised an audit, at the same time, however, pleaded for an answer with moderation to avoid unnecessary distortions in the domestic market and in trade with third countries to avoid. "It is critical that we look at the matter in proper perspective," said the Commissioner. Would occur in the future in Europe, new animal diseases on the plan. You should see the Schmallenberg virus as an opportunity to calibrate the EU's tools to combat new risks.
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