- Schmallenberg virus was first isolated in Schmallenberg, Germany, in November 2011.
- Schmallenberg virus is a Bunyavirus, one of a large group of of negative-stranded RNA viruses.
- Why should I care? In cows, Schmallenberg virus causes fever and a drastic reduction in milk production. In sheep it causes congenital malformations and stillborn lambs (also stillborn calves in cows).
- Schmallenberg virus was first identifed in the UK on 23rd January 2012.
- Like Bluetongue, Schmallenberg virus is transmitted by midges (Culicoides spp.), which means we will be unlikely to be able to eradicate it – vaccination of anaimals is the only likely effective response.
- Where did Schmallenberg virus come from? The virus genome is most closely related to sequences of a different Orthobunyavirus called Shamonda virus which belongs to the so-called Simbu serogroup known to infect ruminants and be transmitted by midges. In other words, it has form. But whether it is newly evolved (unlikely) or just newly discovered we don’t yet know.
- How did Schmallenberg virus reach the UK? We don’t know. It could have been due to animal movements, but since it was first identifed in eastern England, it’s possible that it arrived in midges travelling under their own steam.
- Is Schmallenberg virus going to spread to other parts of the UK and other countries? Yes, you can bet on that (just like bluetongue did).
- Can I catch Schmallenberg virus? Honest answer: We don’t know. Possibly, but there have been no reports of human illness from areas where the virus is known to exist, so I wouldn’t worry too much.
- Where can I find the latest news about Schmallenberg virus? Right here.
- OK, one last time, why should I care? Because Schmallenberg virus is going to cost European and probably worldwide ecomonies millions of pounds. And that will affect you.
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