The Schmallenberg Virus, which hit Ireland in 2012 resulting in malformed newborn calves and lambs, could return, the Department of Agriculture has warned.

Donal Sammin, of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Veterinary Laboratories said the Department is looking at a model which might indicate, through milk volumes, whether dairy herds have Schmallenberg in advance of births.

He said this could be used to provide more useful real-time data for dairy farmers.

“We found the same pattern around Schmallenberg where it came in south and east of the country and did not spread further.”

Schmallenberg first hit Irish shores in 2012, and was transported by midges to affect flocks mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

“We anticipated that when midges became active in 2013 it would spread further, but it didn’t. In Ireland we know that mid April and early December, is when midges are active, but that year a bad winter and hot dry summer may have helped curtail the spread we expected.

“We presume there were not enough midges to spread it north and west. And, we are presuming from our information that this has burnt out but there is nothing to say it might come back.”