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A vacine to protect sheep and cattle from the Schmallenberg Virus, which is already well established in the UK, could be available by the summer, says Defra Chief Veterinary Officer Alick Simmons.
The virus, which emerged in the Netherlands and Germany in 2011, has affected sheep and cattle across the Midlands – with many farmers losing around 40% of their livestock.
Alick Simmons explains how the vacine will protect livestock.
A farmer from Leicestershire, who lost 40 per cent of his flock to a fatal virus, has welcomed the news that a vaccine is now available.
Charles Sercome lost £10,000 worth of livestock to the Schmallenburg Virus, which spreads when midges bite pregnant ewes, causing lambs to develop severe abnormalities.
Evidence suggests that the disease was brought into the UK from infected midges blown across the Channel.
A farmer from Leicestershire says he is expecting to lose 40 per cent of his flock of lambs due to a virus that causes severe abnormalities.
Schmallenberg virus is cause by insects biting pregnant ewes. It first appeared in Germany in 2011 and this is the second time it's hit farmers in Leicestershire.
Charles sercombe runs Sandlands farm in Frisby on the Wreake. He says it's vital the government gives the go ahead for a vaccine so that next years lambing season can be disease free.
A disease which causes deformities in new born lambs has been identified in Leicestershire for a second time.
The Schmallenberg Virus is caused when pregnant ewes are bitten by insects. In most cases the lambs have to be taken from their mothers and humanely destroyed.
Farmers across the region are concerned the disease that is said to be the biggest threat to livestock since foot and mouth, will spread to their farms.
The virus Schmallenberg was discovered last year in Germany, it causes birth defects in sheep, goats and cattle, and currently there is still no cure.
Farmers across the region are concerned a disease that is said to be the biggest threat to livestock since foot and mouth, will spread to their farms.
The virus Schmallenberg was discovered last year in Germany, it causes birth defects in sheep, goats and cattle, and currently there is still no cure. It is affecting hundreds of farms across England, several of which are in the Midlands.
Robert Bealby, a farmer from North Nottinghamshire says, "We can't prevent it, we don't know how to stop it from getting to the sheep."
"We expect all these lovely young lambs to be bouncing about behind their mum, and we end up with a lot of deformed or dead lambs, that's the scary part about it."
The disease which is spread by midges can't be contracted by humans or affect food safety but it can reduce milk yield in cattle.
The Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has issued a warning about the disease.
Lambing season starts in March, so farmers are carrying out regular checks and scans to make sure their farm hasn't been hit by the virus.
Livestock farmers across Yorkshire, Lincolnshire North Nottingham and North Derbyshire hope that a vaccine will be developed next year.
It is considered the biggest threat to livestock since the Foot and Mouth outbreak a decade ago. The Schmallenberg virus causes birth defects in sheep, goats and cattle and there is still no vaccine to combat the outbreak.
Scores of farms have already been affected. Now, the government department DEFRA has taken the unusual step of issuing a warning about the disease, with the lambing season underway already. David Hirst reports.