Scientists believe that SBV may affect wild animals
Emma Plowright (Vet News Farm Animal Editor)
Scientists in Europe are concerned that wild animals may be acting as a ‘reservoir’ for the midge-bourne Schmallenberg virus (SBV) which has been detected on nearly 1,000 farms in England and Wales.
A team from the Universite de Liege in Belgium who have been monitoring the disease in wildlife have noted that it can also affect roe deer and red deer. One member of the team has called for “specific surveillance of wild animals for SBV”
If pregnant ewes are infected, the virus causes deformities and neurological abnormalities in. An expert at the University of Nottingham has stated that although we can confirm that deer get the disease, it is not currently known how they will be affected. The placental structure of a deer differs from that of cows and sheep meaning that, at present, it is not known if the virus can cross the placenta.
SBV has a huge economic impact and figures from the University of Nottingham show that some farms are suffering up to 30% losses; this can have a devastating effect on farmers’ livelihoods. Professor Trevor Drew of the UK government’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency spoke recently of the difficulties in trying to control the disease: it is midge Bourne and “It is just impossible to control midges across an area the size of Europe”
Alick Simmons, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, has stated that he believes the disease “will either through vaccination or through natural spread become less of a problem over time”, adding that several vaccines are currently being developed. He also pointed out that some areas which were affected by the virus last year were not affected so severely this year.