Schmallenberg virus: more and more lambs affected

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Novel animal disease: Schmallenberg virus is spreading

A new animal epidemic raged in many flocks of sheep, which resulted in the lambs of the infected animals being born with serious malformations and not being viable. The Schmallenberg virus, named after its location in the Sauerland region, can also be dangerous for goats and cows, but according to current knowledge there is no risk of infection for humans.

More and more companies have reported stillbirths and serious malformations in newborn lambs in recent weeks. More than 20 German sheep farms are already affected by the infectious disease. A massive spread of the Schmallenberg virus can currently be observed, especially in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, but the first suspected cases have also been reported from Hesse. The sheep breeding association from North Rhine-Westphalia stated that the new animal disease is spreading rapidly.

Increased number of infections in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia Although the companies affected so far are still relatively manageable, the spread of the pathogens is causing considerable concern for the experts. The virus has already appeared in sheep populations in North Rhine-Westphalia's Hopsten, Emmerich am Rhein, Borken, Rees, Wesel, Kempen, Essen, Dinslaken, Hünxe, Hamminkeln, Balve, Schmallenberg and Hamm. In Lower Saxony, flocks of sheep in Bassum, Großenkneten, Großefehn, Jade, Wardenburg and Wingst were affected. According to experts from the NRW sheep breeding association, the virus has also occurred in some animals in the neighboring countries of Belgium and the Netherlands. For example, 52 infections with the Schmallenberg virus have already been reported in the Netherlands and in Belgium 14. France and Great Britain have intensified their surveillance in view of the spread of the virus.

Controlling the spread of the new animal disease In order to record the spread of the virus, the federal government has made it compulsory to report infections with the Schmallenberg virus. In addition, 60 blood samples from cattle and sheep are to be taken and analyzed nationwide by the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health in all federal states. Since the Schmallenberg virus was first detected in 2011, the pathogen has spread relatively quickly in northern Germany and the northwestern neighboring countries. The pathogens are transmitted by mosquitoes, although the disease poses relatively little risk for adult animals, but if pregnant mothers are infected, there is a risk of serious health consequences for the unborn lambs. They are born deformed and often not viable. The current findings assume that there is no risk of infection for humans, but a final assessment of the health risks is not yet available. (fp)

Image: Makrodepecher /

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