Livestock Farmers Warned to be Vigilant for New Disease

Livestock Farmers Warned to be Vigilant for New Disease
11th Jan 2012

LIVESTOCK farmers are being urged to look out for signs of a new and emerging disease in mainland Europe causing foetal malformations in cattle, sheep and goats. Reports the Farmers Guardian.


Farmers considered at most risk from Schmallenberg virus (SBV) are those who have imported animals from affected countries, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

British Veterinary Association president Carl Padgett said: “The symptoms described in adults are quite generic but this disease seems to affect a few animals, not just one.

“Clinical symptoms initially reported in the affected areas include fever, reduced milk yield, loss of appetite, loss of condition and in some cases diarrhoea, with clinical signs disappearing after a few days.

“AHVLA is now looking for reports of signs in newborn ruminants and aborted foetuses of limb or brain defects such as arthrogryposis, jaw deformations and torticollis, and ataxia, paralysis and blindness. They are particularly interested if these offspring were born to animals where there is a history of importation from the infected areas in northern Europe.”

He added that although the risk of transmission to humans is considered very low ‘it cannot be excluded’ and urged farmers and vets take ‘all sensible precautions to prevent infection’.

SAC’s Veterinary Services Manager Brian Hosie said while there is no evidence that SBV is currently present in Britain, enhanced surveillance is required to ensure that, should infection occur, it is detected and controlled at the earliest possible stage.

“We therefore ask veterinary practices and farmers to report such cases to us. In addition, farmers planning to purchase cattle from Belgium, the Netherlands or Germany should enquire about the health history of herds of origin of pregnant animals,” he said.

NFU Scotland President and qualified vet, Nigel Miller said: “While there are no indications that the virus has already reached the UK, there is an element of risk that it could make its way into Scottish cattle and sheep stocks.  That calls for farmers, vets and Government to play their part in a heightened surveillance effort.

“Seeking reassurances that you are selecting stock for import from known sources where no history of virus has been recorded imperative.”

Any suspect signs should be reported to the local AHVLA or SAC laboratory.

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