UK on High Alert with Schmallenberg in England

UK - Scotland, Wales and Ireland are on high alert, after more cases of Schmallenberg are confirmed in England.
calendar icon 1 March 2012
clock icon 4 minute read


In England, further cases of Schamllenberg have been reported, with 84 cases in total now.

Positive cases of SBV virus have now been identified on the Isle of Wight and in Wiltshire, West Berkshire and South Gloucestershire. This is in addition to the counties in the east and south of England which have previously had cases identified, namely Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, East and West Sussex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Hampshire and Cornwall.

The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation plc (AMC) is reassuring livestock farmers that it will be supportive of any customers concerned about meeting loan instalments as a result of loss of income due to the Schmallenberg virus.

“AMC has been consistent over many years in supporting its farming customers during especially challenging incidents such as Foot and Mouth Disease and Avian Flu,” said Jonathan Allright, Head of AMC.

“Our purpose is to provide long-term support to well managed farming businesses, and I reaffirm this stance in respect of the current Schmallenberg virus and the potential difficulties and uncertainties it could pose to some of our customers.

“If your farm has been affected by the virus and you are concerned about your ability to meet loan instalments, AMC will be understanding and realistic, and I encourage you to contact us early if you are affected. Our specialist staff will work with you to find a suitable solution to ease your situation.”


Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) President John Bryan has again urged Irish farmers to be extremely cautious when purchasing animals of unknown origin and health status. He said this was particularly important now as over 80 cases of the Schmallenberg virus have been detected in Britain, which could significantly increase the risk of spread to Irish cattle and sheep.

Mr Bryan said farmers and importers should resist the temptation of the perceived better value, and consider the implications an outbreak of the Schmallenberg virus.

The IFA President said: “With a worrying lack of information available about this new virus, everybody involved in the industry has an obligation to act in a responsible manner that does not increase the risk of this virus reaching our shores, and to protect our national health and trade status.”

Mr Bryan called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and the Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill to adopt immediately an all-island strategy that reduces the risk to the island from the introduction of this disease.

He said stringent controls must now be put in place at all entry points to the island of Ireland, including the intensification of the biosecurity measures for all high risk cargo entering the country through seaports and airports.

Concluding, the IFA President said Irish farmers have invested heavily in raising the health status of the national herd. “The irresponsible actions of a few will not be condoned and cannot be allowed to jeopardise the work and investment made by farmers in attaining the health status we currently hold.”


Representatives of all Scottish organisations are concerned regarding the risk to the Scottish livestock industry of the novel viral disease currently threatening the sheep and cattle industry in a growing number of regions of mainland Europe and Southern England.

The group appeals to all keepers to exercise extreme caution when considering importing animals from the risk areas.

The above group of organisations urges Scottish livestock farmers to:

  • Avoid imports from high-risk areas, but if they are unavoidable restrict those imports to the Transmission Free Period (TFP) when midges are least active. Based on historic records the TFP runs from 1 November to 30 April.
  • Avoid importing pregnant animals. There is a risk that they may have been exposed to the virus and the foetus already affected.

The group also urge Scottish livestock keepers to remain vigilant to the disease and report any suspicious abortion, malformations and neurological damage in new-born calves, lambs and kids to their vet and consider submitting material for examination. Keepers should also keep aware of the developing spread of the disease cross Europe and take this information into consideration when planning imports.


Welsh livestock farmers have expressed their worries about the potential spread of Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) following the increasing incidence of the disease in southern England.

Peter Davies, Chairman of the NFU Cymru Livestock Board said, “I would urge all farmers to remain extra vigilant for signs of the disease and to immediately report any unusual symptoms, abortions or stillbirths to their local vet or to the animal health office. This is still a relatively new virus and, as such, the more information that can be gathered about the disease, the quicker we hope a solution can be found.”

Further Reading

- Find out more information on Schmallenberg by clicking here.

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