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Since December 2011, an epizootic of congenital malformations, designated as arthrogryposis-hydranencephaly syndrome (AHS), has been seen in ruminants in several countries in Western Europe (Van den Brom and others 2012). The disease has been associated with a new orthobunyavirus, named Schmallenberg virus (SBV) (Hoffmann and others 2012). After SBV was detected in brain tissue from malformed lambs by PCR on December 15, 2011, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation made congenital malformations in ruminants notifiable. Farmers and veterinarians are obliged to notify and submit malformed newborns to the Animal Health Service (GD-Deventer) for autopsy examination.
Until May 15, 2012, over 600 lambs and over 1200 calves had been examined, and many of them showed AHS which is likely to be caused by an intrauterine infection with SBV. Brain tissue samples of all malformed newborns were tested by PCR at the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI). However, SBV could only be confirmed in 22 per cent of the lambs and 19 per cent of the calves that were investigated until May 15, 2012. Initially, a real-time PCR protocol targeting the L-segment was used. Since February 17, 2012, a real-time PCR protocol targeting the S-segment was used, since the latter PCR demonstrated a higher analytical and diagnostic sensitivity as indicated by the Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Germany and Dijkman and others (2012). Both protocols were kindly provided by the Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Germany.
Persistent infection in Akabane virus-infected foetuses has not been reported, and the virus cannot be easily isolated from affected full-term calves or lambs because of the presence of neutralising (NT) …