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OVER recent years, several viruses transmitted by Culicoides midges have emerged in European livestock, leading to significant economic losses. For example, in 2006, bluetongue virus (BTV) serotype 8 emerged in Belgium and the Netherlands and spread rapidly to Central and Western European countries (Saegerman and others 2008). In 2007, BTV serotype 1 spread from the Maghreb to Spain and was subsequently detected in France and Portugal (Wilson and Mellor 2009). More recently, Schmallenberg virus (SBV), a virus belonging to the Bunyaviridae family and the Orthobunyavirus genus, was identified in Germany in November 2011 (Hoffmann and others, 2012).
SBV primarily infects domestic and wild ruminants, and causes clinical signs including diarrhoea, moderate hypothermia, decrease in milk production and anorexia in adult cattle, while sheep and goats are mildly affected. Infection of bovine, ovine and caprine fetuses by SBV is associated with abortions, premature births and stillbirths, diverse congenital malformations and abnormalities of the central nervous system. SBV has spread very rapidly from Germany and the Netherlands to Great Britain, France and other European countries (Doceul and others 2013). By the end of October 2012, SBV infection had been confirmed in about …
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