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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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

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