The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has licensed veterinary pharmaceutical company MSD Animal Health to provide the "Bovolis SBV" vaccine for animals affected by the Schmallenberg virus.
VMD chief executive Pete Borriello said:
"This is the culmination of intensive activity on the part of MSD Animal Health and the VMD to make a safe and effective vaccine available to tackle Schmallenberg.
"Without in any way compromising the scientific rigour of our assessment process, we accelerated our assessment so that a vaccine will be available this summer.
"This means it will be possible to vaccinate sheep and cattle before most of them become pregnant. This is important as it is during pregnancy when exposure to the virus can cause damage to the foetus."
The Schmallenberg virus originated in Germany and is carried on the wind by midges.
Outbreaks have tended to coincide with midge seasons during hotter weather.
There is no evidence of any health risk to humans, but symptoms in livestock include:
- Causes mild symptoms in adult cattle such as fever and diarrhoea
- Reduces milk in dairy cows
- Animals that have been infected are immune
- Two-30% of infected sheep, cattle and goats give birth to deformed or stillborn offspring
A new vaccine could be made available to farmers whose livestock has been affected by the Schmallenberg virus, it was announced today.
The virus, which emerged in the Netherlands and Germany in 2011 and causes severe birth defects and miscarriages, has been identified on more than 1,700 farms across the country.
Adult animals infected by virus-carrying midges, thought to have blown across the Channel, gave birth to deformed or stillborn lambs and calves.
UK farmers will be the first in the European Union to have access to the vaccine, which will be used this summer, before most animals become pregnant again.