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Disease surveillance in England and Wales, May 2018

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APHA disease Surveillance report headlines

  • Congenital brain lesions in calves resembling bluetongue

  • A seasonal case of duck virus enteritis

  • Wildlife mass mortality events in late winter

Highlights from the scanning surveillance network


Congenital neurological disease outbreak in dairy calves

A live, two-day-old dairy calf from a 340-cow dairy herd was examined at the APHA Thirsk Veterinary Investigation Centre. Twenty calvings had occurred over a 10-day period, with seven of the calves born with similar neurological signs. The previous six affected calves had died or been euthanased.

The submitted calf was unable to stand unassisted, had a slight tremor and exhibited fitting and opisthotonos. It was euthanased and examined postmortem which revealed marked cavitation and thinning of the cerebral hemispheres and cerebellar hypoplasia (Fig 1a, b).

Fig 1: Brain of a two-day-old calf showing (a) marked cavitation of the cerebral hemisphere (arrow) and (b) marked cerebellar hypoplasia (arrow)

The gross pathology affecting the cerebral hemispheres was consistent with hydranencephaly, which can be caused by infection of pregnant animals with bluetongue virus, as described in past cases seen in the UK.1 Consequently, the case was reported as suspect notifiable disease and an official veterinary investigation was performed. Samples collected at the visit and from the calf were tested and ruled out bluetongue virus infection. Subsequent tests for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) virus (BVDV) and Schmallenberg virus (SBV) by PCR were both negative. Histopathology confirmed porencephaly, hydranencephaly and severe cerebellar dysplasia.

About this report

This report is produced each month by the APHA Surveillance Intelligence Unit and the six Species Expert Groups (livestock and wildlife). The international horizon-scanning summaries are produced by the Defra/APHA International Disease Monitoring (IDM) team, notifiable disease reports by the APHA Veterinary Exotic and Notifiable Disease Unit (VENDU), and threat analysis by the cross-agency Veterinary Risk Group (VRG). The report is drawn from scanning surveillance information, data and reports produced by the APHA Veterinary Investigation Centres and non-APHA partner postmortem examination providers contributing to the VIDA database and complying with standardised diagnostic and laboratory testing criteria. Other livestock and wildlife …

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