Schmallenberg virus: Scottish farmers put on high alert

A cow (generic) Farmers in southern Scotland have been urged to get their animals tested for the virus

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Scottish livestock producers have been put on high alert after a virus affecting cattle and sheep was detected in northern England.

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) causes fever, diarrhoea and loss of milk production in adult cattle, although the animals do recover.

The disease, first identified on German and Dutch farms, is not thought to pose a risk to humans.

Borders and Dumfries and Galloway farms have been advised to be vigilant.

SBV spread via midges throughout parts of Europe and southern England last year.

It causes relatively mild conditions in cattle and sheep, but where infection takes place during the early stage of pregnancy it can result in congenital disorders of lambs and calves, stillbirths and abortions.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reported this week that positive samples had been found on farms in North Yorkshire and Northumberland.

NFU Scotland said southern regions of Scotland were now at risk.

It has provided funding to allow those importing stock from SBV risk areas to test for the virus.

President Nigel Miller, who farms in southern Scotland, said: "Those farms in the Borders and Dumfries and 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 with animals brought in from affected areas in England and Wales have been advised to consider testing those animals through the NFUS scheme.

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