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Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection is an emerging livestock disease caused by a novel Orthobunyavirus which was first identified in Germany in November 2011. Non-specific clinical signs such as fever, decreased milk production and diarrhoea are associated with the acute infection in cattle, while late abortions and birth defects in newborns can be associated with the infection of pregnant cows, ewes and goats (Hoffmann and others 2012, Van den Brom and others 2012). As of March 30, 2012, since the first identification of congenital forms of SBV virus infection in The Netherlands in December 2011, about 3000 confirmed outbreaks have been reported in eight European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain, UK) (French National Surveillance Platform for Animal Health 2012). However, little is known about SBV virus infection, especially with regard to its clinical impact in the affected herds.
SBV emergence is closely monitored in France. Farmers are urged to contact their veterinarian when encountering cases of ruminant neonates or fetuses stillborn, malformed or showing nervous disorders. A brain sample is collected on any newborn suspected of congenital SBV until a first confirmation of the infection is obtained for the herd. An SBV diagnostic test is performed in state diagnostic laboratories, using real-time quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR). The first cases of SBV virus infection were …