UK: Scientists weigh up effects of Schmallenberg disease on sheep farms

Scientists will be weighing up the effects of a new disease affecting UK sheep and cattle which emerged via the Continent this year.

There are now 274 UK farms reporting cases of Schmallenberg virus (SBV), which affects newborn sheep and cattle and can cause them to be born malformed or still-born.

As of June 25, there were 52 in cattle, 219 in sheep and three premises which reported sheep earlier in the year and are now also reporting cattle cases.

In Suffolk, there are 13 sheep and 10 cattle sites affected, while in Essex, 11 sheep and two cattle farms have been hit so far. In Norfolk, there are 15 in sheep site, five in cattle and one farm where both cattle and sheep are affected. In Cambridgeshire, two farms are affected - one sheep one cattle farm.

One of the new cattle cases is in the county of Oxfordshire, within the “at risk” regions for midge incursion last year. Midges have been identified as carriers of the disease.

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The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) is undertaking a survey to measure the impact Schmallenberg (SBV) had on sheep farms during the 2011/12 lambing season. As this is a new disease, the main aim is to assess possible losses to farmers and to better understand how the disease has affected animal health and welfare in Great Britain.

AHVLA is asking all sheep farmers, including those who did not have Schmallenberg in their flock, to answer a short online questionnaire. There are 30 questions, which should take less than 30 minutes to complete. Links to English and Welsh versions of the questionnaire can be found on its website.

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A summary of the survey results will be published on the AHVLA website, but no individual farms will be identifiable from these results. The closing date for answering the online questionnaire is 15 July 2012. Any questions about the survey should be sent to

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