Schmallenberg virus – an emerging novel pathogen
Ian Davies graduated from Cambridge University in 1984 and after three years in practice joined AHVLA (formerly MAFF, Veterinary Investigation Service). He is currently a Veterinary Investigation and Surveillance Lead at AHVLA and senior vice-president of the Sheep Veterinary Society.
Piet Vellema graduated from Utrecht University in 1980 and completed his PhD in 1996. He is a registered specialist in small ruminant health care in the Netherlands and is a diplomate of the European College of Small Ruminant Health Management.
Paul Roger graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 1980. After 25 years in practice he established a referral practice and consultancy service in farm animal health and production. He is a pastpresident of the Sheep Veterinary Society and is an RCVS recognised specialist in sheep health and production. He is president of the European College of Small Ruminant Health Management and is a diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine.
Emergence and initial spread of the disease
Between August and October 2011, outbreaks of disease in adult cattle that included mild to moderate fever, reduced milk yield, loss of appetite, loss of body condition and diarrhoea were reported in both the Netherlands and Germany. The cause of these outbreaks of disease was initially uncertain following examination for the routine causes of diarrhoea in adult cattle, which were not detected. From late November 2011, the birth of abnormal fetuses, affecting initially sheep but also cattle and a relatively low number of goats, was identified in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
A new virus was identified by metagenomic analysis of blood samples from affected cattle in Germany in November 2011, by the Friedrich Loeffler Institute, and has subsequently been confirmed as the cause of both conditions. The virus was named ‘Schmallenberg virus’ (SBV) after the German town where the samples originated.
Enhanced surveillance for …