Call for release of Schmallenberg vaccine

The current Schmallenberg virus (SV) situation has lead to the National Sheep Association (NSA) and the Sheep Veterinary Society (SVS) to press for the release of a vaccine.

The NSA and SVS are aware that a vaccine to protect against SV has been developed, but will not be available for use by farmers until it has been approved. The two organisations are now urging the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to make the vaccine available as early as possible, as tupping season for sheep is approaching.

At the moment, seven cases of SV have been discovered in lambs since April this year, which the two organisations said is indicative that the virus has survived the winter. The SVS and NSA said: “It is timely and necessary to provide suitable preventive regimes prior to our next period of risk, which will be the silent (possibly symptomless) spread of the virus by our susceptible midge population around the time of our peak breeding season for sheep.”

Paul Roger of the SVS explained that although SV had been declared a “low impact disease” he was not convinced that labelling it as such was a true reflection of the impact the virus has had across Europe. He said: “We fear we may face further disease next year; the UK is in a special situation as we occupy the border between infected and non-infected flocks/herds and this area is particularly needful of protective vaccination in advance of the breeding season. At present, the potential disease catastrophe that awaits this region desperately requires a vaccine to prevent this occurrence.”

NSA CEO Phil Stocker said the virus was still a risk for UK sheep farmers and the risk of boundary infection around tupping season was likely. Stocker said: “If we are to contain this virus, then the benefits of having a vaccine available to cover at least part of this year’s tupping will be hugely valuable. NSA would urge the VMD to do all the necessary checks, but to proceed as fast as possible so as not to miss this season entirely.”

Related News:

>Schmallenberg fears played down

>Schmallenberg concerns addressed

>Schmallenberg virus hits Britain


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