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Schmallenberg warning for south Scotland farmers as 14 cases picked up across the border

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute confirmed 14 cases had been presented for testing, including seven in County Fermanagh and one in County Tyrone.


Lauren   Dean

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Lauren   Dean
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Schmallenberg warning for south Scotland farmers as 14 cases picked up across the border

Reports of Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) in Northern Ireland have prompted concern farmers across the border in the south west of Scotland could also be hit by the disease.

 

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) confirmed 14 cases had been presented for testing, including seven positive outbreaks in County Fermanagh and one in County Tyrone.

 

The virus has already been active in Dumfries and Galloway since the autumn of last year after detection through bulk milk sampling surveillance by Livestock Health Scotland.

 

Colin Mason from SAC Consulting Veterinary Services, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), said: “Farmers in places where Schmallenberg has been circulating, such as Dumfries and Galloway, need to be aware of the risks.


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“The deformities the virus causes in calves – including bent legs and twisted spines – can lead to calving difficulties and extra help may be needed.

 

“If lambs or calves are born with deformities, then it is worthwhile submitting material for diagnostic testing to confirm if Schmallenberg is the cause.”

 

Prevention

Symptoms in cattle include fever, drop in milk yield and sometimes diarrhoea, but signs in sheep are rarely shown.

 

A vaccine for SBV is now available which Mr Mason said was an option for future prevention.

 

“The good news is that, if there are deformities among calves or lambs, it is unlikely that they will affect a large proportion of the lamb or calf crop,” he said.

 

Penny Middleton, NFU Scotland’s animal health and welfare policy manager added: “Presence of the disease during autumn means calves and lambs are at risk of being born deformed in the south west of Scotland, but the risk is significantly lower the further north or east you go.”

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