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Emerging diseases
Schmallenberg virus continues to spread across Europe

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THE spread of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) across Europe is documented in the latest analysis of the epidemiological data by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The EFSA has been publishing periodic analyses of the SBV situation since early in 2012, following a request from the European Commission to collect and analyse epidemiological data on the emerging virus (VR, February 11, 2012, vol 170,p 139; February 18, 2012, vol 170, p 165).

In its latest assessment, which covers the period August 1, 2011 to April 30, 2013 and which was published on May 16, the EFSA reports that, over the winter of 2012 and the spring of 2013, the virus has spread to new areas, including Scotland and regions of Norway, Finland and Sweden. It has also spread to new regions in the east of Europe, including Latvia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. In total, 19 EU member states, plus Switzerland, Norway and Croatia, have reported cases of SBV. More than 8000 holdings in Europe have had laboratory-confirmed cases of SBV since September 2011, the EFSA reports. It adds that RT-PCR has detected evidence of SBV in bison, deer, moose, alpacas and buffalo, as well as cattle, sheep and goats, and that fallow, roe and red deer have all been found to be seropositive.

Acute cases of infection in adult animals have been reported in Germany in every month from November 2012 to April 2013, the EFSA says, suggesting that the virus continued to circulate during the winter period. New cases of arthrogryposis hydranencephaly syndrome have also been reported in fetuses and neonates in 2013. The EFSA suggests that areas on the periphery of previously affected countries may have a lower prevalence and susceptible animals may be present. It says there is no apparent evidence to refute the assumption that infection with SBV results in long-term immunity but, it says, ‘vigilance for evidence to the contrary is important’.

The report notes that newly affected cattle herds have been reported throughout Europe into 2013, although a smaller number of herds have been reported in the spring of 2013 than were reported in spring 2012. ‘It is important to note that these reports occurred without interruption through the autumn and winter of 2012,’ it says. Similarly, a smaller number of sheep and goat herds were reported to be affected in spring 2013 compared with spring 2012. However, the EFSA warns that, because SBV is not a notifiable disease and because in most countries the costs of laboratory testing are borne by the farmer, ‘it is likely that there is appreciable under ascertainment of SBV-affected herds’.

■ ‘Schmallenberg virus: analysis of the epidemiological data (May 2013)’. Available at

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