As the spring lambing and calving period progresses there have been many reports across the UK of deformed lambs and calves suggestive of in utero infection with Schmallenberg virus (SBV). During January and February SBV was diagnosed as the cause of deformed lambs in counties across the north of England including Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria. More recently the SAC labs in Dumfries and St. Boswells have confirmed infection in two Scottish flocks and we are aware of anecdotal reports of other cases. It is important to try and confirm the diagnosis because SBV is not the only cause of birth deformities. For example infection with Border Disease virus can also lead to the birth of deformed lambs. In addition we now know that SBV vaccine is in production again and is expected to be available later this year – hopefully before the start of the pedigree sheep breeding season. Unfortunately there will not be any vaccine available in time for this year’s spring bulling period.
If you have deformed lambs or calves born this spring submit the entire lamb or calf for PM examination. SBV testing would be carried out at no additional cost as part of the full examination. Alternatively ask your vet to collect samples from the lamb/calf for SBV PCR testing which is free of charge.
Heather Stevenson, email@example.com
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