East Anglia: Schmallenberg virus outbreak discovered in Cambridgeshire

SCHMALLENBERG virus has now been identified on 121 UK farms.

The non-notifiable livestock disease, which causes symptoms including stillbirths and abnormalities in lambs and calves, has spread to four new counties, including Cambridgeshire.

The disease, thought to have been brought from the Continent by midges, has now been been found on 13 sheep farms and two cattle farms in Suffolk, 15 sheep and three cattle sites in Norfolk and seven sheep farms in Essex, as well as 15 counties in other parts of the country.

So far, none of the affected farms have reported importing animals during 2011 from the affected areas in mainland Europe. Schmallenberg (SBV) infection has only been identified in areas at risk of midge incursion from Northern Europe during the summer and autumn of 2011

The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency says no human cases have been detected in any country, and the most closely related viruses only cause animal disease. However, as a new virus, work is ongoing to identify whether it could cause health problems in humans.

It is advising visitors to farms to adopt the usual hygiene precautions for farm visits, such as washing of hands after touching animals and particularly before eating.

Pregnant women are advised to follow existing guidance to avoid close contact with animals, including sheep, cows and goats, that are giving birth.