Schmallenberg Appears in Scotland

SCOTLAND, UK - With the news that a tup brought in from Shropshire to the north of Scotland has tested positive for Schmallenberg virus (SBV), National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) is advising livestock keepers to be vigilant for the disease.
calendar icon 18 October 2012
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The Scottish Agricultural College will test contact animals although, given the recent cold weather, it is unlikely that the disease will have become established in the area.

It is just over a week since Defra reported positive SBV samples on farms in North Yorkshire and Northumberland, prompting NFUS to advise Scottish livestock producers importing stock from SBV-risk areas to take up NFUS, the Scottish Government and SRUC’s scheme to screen animals for the virus.

NFUS President, Borders livestock farmer and vet Nigel Miller said: “NFUS received news today of a tup in the north of Scotland, which had been brought in from an SBV-risk area testing positive for the disease. Contact animals will be tested although it is hoped that the disease will not have spread. The weather has been cold recently, which inhibits insect vectors, such midges, and it is therefore likely that any potential spread will be blocked.

“The tup’s owner is to be commended for conducting the test and the event underlines the need for all livestock farmers importing stock from SBV-risk areas to test animals for the disease.

“There is no structured 'sentinel' surveillance in northern England or Scotland and it is therefore possible that the disease is already circulating in the south of Scotland. As midges and other vectors are likely to be active for at least another three weeks, we are advising all our members to speak to their vet if they are concerned about their livestock.

“Schmallenberg is still a relatively new disease and we are not yet familiar with all its attributes, however, modelling suggests that the disease could become established in Scotland south of the Clyde and Forth valleys. While the overall impact of the virus may be low in adult animals, it can impact severely on pregnant livestock, especially sheep, resulting in reduced foetal viability and deformities.

“A vaccine is being developed, which must undergo trials to demonstrate its safety. The vaccine may be available next year, which is when it would be most useful in Scotland. Luckily, it appears that livestock develop immunity to Schmallenberg relatively quickly. NFU Scotland is running workshops with the support of MSD Veterinarians to ensure members are aware of the latest developments and options for minimising the disease’s impacts.”

Brian Hosie, Group Manager SAC Consulting Veterinary Services, a Division of SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College, said: “This shows the importance and value of post-movement testing and farmers should take advantage of the NFUS-supported testing scheme. I would also commend the farmer for his responsible approach in making the proper checks, we cannot afford to drop our guard against the threat of disease.”

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