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Schmallenberg vaccine is result of 'intensive activity'

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."

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What is the Schmallenberg virus?

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

Schmallenberg virus vaccine for farmers

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.

UK farmers will be the first in the European Union to have access to the Schmallenberg vaccine Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

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.

Schmallenberg vaccine ready for summer

A vaccine to protect animals against the Schmallenberg Virus (SBV), has been developed and UK farmers will be the first to access it by summer.

The vaccine helps to protect sheep and cattle against birth defects cause by the virus.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has issued a license to provide the new "Bovilis SBV' vaccine.

"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.

"Voluntary reports from our farmers show that 1,753 farms throughout Great Britain have now tested positive for the virus."

– Pete Borriello, CEO, Veterinary Medicines Directorate

Cattle from a herd on the outskirts of Dumfries were confirmed to have contracted SBV last month.

Full report: Farmers prepare for spread of Schmallenberg

Animal health experts in southern Scotland say they are braced for the Schmallenberg disease to spread.

The virus was confirmed last week for the first time in mainland Scotland when it appeared on a farm close to Dumfries.

The disease, which can lead to birth defects in sheep and cattle, has already appeared in Cumbria.

Vets in Scotland say they will now monitor the illness closely.

Matthew Taylor has this report:

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Livestock in Dumfries test positive for Schmallenburg

Eight cows from Dumfries have tested positive for the Schmallenburg virus (SBV).

The cattle are part of a 160-strong dairy herd from the Barony campus at Scotland's Rural College on the outskirts of the town.

Farmers in Dumfries and Galloway have now been put on alert for the disease which causes severe birth defects.

A small number of animals which were recently moved to Scotland tested positive for the disease, but the latest cases were all homebred, suggesting that SBV has been spread by midges.

"Since Schmallenberg was first detected in the south of England we have watched it spread slowly northwards.

"Confirmation of its arrival in Scotland is, therefore, no surprise but is nonetheless disappointing and undoubtedly a headache which farmers could do without at the moment.

"Following that confirmation, farmers should continue to exercise vigilance particularly when moving animals onto their farm and should consider testing breeding stock for the SBV antibody."

– Richard Lochhead, Rural Affairs Secretary

"These new results arose from testing we chose to do as part of other routine sampling at Barony.

"While the results were unexpected, they will now help us plan our breeding programme and consider vaccination when it becomes available later this year.

"That's exactly what we hope any findings of the proposed screening programme will help others with."

– Colin Mason, Manager, Dumfries surveillance centre

Farming the future

New developments in technology that may be of use to farmers were on display at the Westmorland Show Ground today.

One of the main talking points is the fairly new virus which can cause still births in lambs and calfs and is spreading north through the UK.

The Schmallenberg Virus was first discovered in continental Europe two years ago.Andy Burn has sent this report.

Farmers urged to keep eye out for virus

A virus that causes still births and deformaties in lambs and calves is spreading towards the north of England. It has prompted vets to urge farmers to keep an eye out for signs of the disease in their livestock to try and control the spread.

It's called the Schmallenberg virus, named after the German town where it was first found.