Farming: Schmallenberg virus on 254 farms

The numbers of new cases of Schmallenberg SBV virus, a non-notifiable disease spread by midges, is continuing to decline in the UK, in line with animal health experts’ expectations.

But while new cases in sheep, at 219 farms so far, are becoming less frequent, experts expect to see cases emerge in cattle into the early summer.

There are now 254 UK farms - 35 in cattle and 219 in sheep - reporting SBV, which causes deformities and stillbirths in new-born animals. In Suffolk, 12 farms have been confirmed to have the virus in sheep and six in cattle. In Essex, the tally is 11 in sheep and two in cattle.

The decline in the numbers of reporting farms is in line with all European Union countries, where the sheep reports have declined as lambing in ‘at risk’ sheep, ie, those at a critical time of gestation when infection can impact on the foetus, draws to an end.

This is also in line with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ own predictions considering UK farming practices and estimated time of infection occurring in the UK.