Scotland on SBV alert
National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS) has asked Scottish farmers to be on high alert for the Schmallenberg Virus (SBV).
The warning came after Defra surveillance for SBV revealed it was present in the north of England and could cross the border into Scotland.
Defra reported that the virus had been found on farms in North Yorkshire and Northumberland. According to the organisation, there is currently no data for Scotland, but it warned that the country’s southern regions were at risk.
The Scottish government recently provided funding to allow those importing stock from SBV-risk areas to test for the virus.
NFUS president Nigel Miller said: “Those farms in the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway planning on putting rams or bulls out in the coming weeks should consider the risk of SBV and seek advice from their vet on the possible benefits of delaying until later in the year. Lower temperatures reduce midge and virus activity and present a low transmission window.
“In the meantime, keepers should remain vigilant to any ill health within their herd or flock and test where SBV might be considered as a possible diagnosis.
“Farms carrying animals bought in from affected areas in England and Wales are advised to consider testing those animals through the NFUS testing scheme. Samples taken by their vet can be sent to SAC or Biobest, where NFUS will help subsidise the cost of the laboratory testing.”
SBV has been identified in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland, as well as the UK.
The virus was first identified in Germany and on Dutch farms. It is believed to have spread across Europe and southern England last year by midges. According to Defra, SBV causes mild conditions in cattle and sheep, but where infection takes place during the early stages of pregnancy, it can result in congenital disorders of lambs and calves, stillbirths and abortions.
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