East Anglia heads list of reported SBV cases

EAST Anglia accounts for nearly half of the total confirmed cases of “deformed lamb disease,” the latest figures have revealed.

The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency said that 39 cases have now been found in sheep flocks in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and East and West Sussex. One case has also been found in Hertfordshire.

The first outbreak of Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) was officially identified in two Norfolk flocks on January 23. These first two cases were in early lambing flocks and veterinary surgeons had been alerted after farmers and shepherds reported higher than expected lambing losses.

The most likely vector for the spread of SBV infection, which is responsible for causing deformed and stillborn lambs and also in cattle, is thought to be infected midges blown last summer and autumn from areas of northern Europe.

The virus, which has been found on more than 500 farms in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and some in France. It was first identified last August and named, provisionally, after the German town where a number of cases were detected in cattle.

Although SBV is not notifiable and has no direct implications for human health, farmers are asked to inform their vet in order to help build up a picture of the scale of the problem.

The total numbers of sheep cases up to Tuesday, February 14 were: Suffolk 11, Norfolk 10, Essex 3, Kent 6, East Sussex 6, West Sussex 2 and Hertfordshire.

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A single case has been found in cattle on a farm in West Sussex.

The AHLVA said that only the number of infected premises would be reported in future.