Warning of animal disease risk

Experts are warning that a new animal disease which causes severe birth defects and miscarriages in livestock could spread across the whole of Britain. There have been 276 cases of Schmallenberg virus in cattle and sheep on farms since early 2012.

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Schmallenberg not nearly as serious as bluetongue

Sheep affected with bluetongue in 2007 Credit: BBSRC

Experts say that although an outbreak of the Schmallenberg virus would be bad news for livestock farmers, it is not nearly as bad as a bluetongue outbreak.

Schmallenberg only causes mild symptoms in adult livestock and affects less than a third of newborn animals.

Bluetongue spread to the UK from the Continent in 2007, and prompted an emergency response of widespread vaccination. There were fears it could have killed 25-30% of the country's sheep.

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