14 Schmallenberg cases suspected in Northern Ireland so far this year

A total of 14 cases of Schmallenberg virus are awaiting official confirmation in tests so far this year in Northern Ireland.

The Schmallenberg virus is not a notifiable disease in Northern Ireland. However, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) advises farmers to contact their vet if they suspect the presence of the disease in their cattle or sheep.

A department spokesman said: “DAERA receives updates from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) on a regular basis and is aware of the recent cases reported in Northern Ireland.

“AFBI has confirmed that, to date in 2018, 14 cases have been presented to AFBI for Schmallenberg testing and current levels of submissions do not present a capacity issue.”

Symptoms

Schmallenberg gives only mild symptoms in adult cattle which are transient – including fever, a drop in milk yield and sometimes diarrhoea.

In adult sheep, few – if any – signs are exhibited. The main impact appears to be if cattle or sheep become infected when pregnant, as exposure to the disease can lead to abortion or malformations in the foetus.

Any reported cases of deformed offspring that meet the clinical case definition are investigated by AFBI free of charge.

Controlling the disease

A vaccine is available to safeguard against Schmallenberg virus. The use of the vaccine will not impact farmers’ ability to trade their animals within the EU.

Farmers considering using the vaccine should discuss its application with their vet.

As Schmallenberg virus is not a notifiable disease, there are currently no movement restrictions in place and no controls are required.

There are no human health implications associated with the disease, nor any food safety implications.

More information on the disease is available on the department’s website.

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