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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Schmallenberg virus 'may spread across UK'

Schmallenberg virus is present in the UK this summer and could spread throughout the country, scientists say.

Staff from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and Institute for Animal Health (IAH) found the virus in animals on the RVC's farm in Hertfordshire in June.

The scientists say this proves the midge-borne virus survived the winter, and will spread as midge numbers rise.

Schmallenberg causes severe deformities in lambs and calves born to infected mothers, but adults recover quickly.

It poses no threat to human health.

Since its first detection in the UK in January, cases have been documented on 276 farms, mostly in the south and east of England, Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens told reporters at a briefing in London.

However, many infections are missed because the symptoms in cows are mild, while infected sheep often show no signs at all.

The first sign is usually when the animals begin giving birth to deformed or dead young - which can be months after the actual infection. Read More