Lambs at risk from deadly Schmallenberg virus

  • 27 February 2012
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Watch Ore's report on lambs at risk

A virus that is a serious threat to sheep and other farm animals has hit 74 farms in England.

The Schmallenberg virus mainly affects sheep. If a pregnant sheep catches the disease, it can have a serious effect on a lamb's development before it is born.

This means it could die or be born severely deformed.

The virus could have been spread here by midges, mosquitoes and ticks from Europe which bite and infect sheep.

At the moment, the affected farms are in the south but farmers are worried the disease will spread north. They're calling on scientists to develop a vaccine but that could take up to two years.

Although cows and goats can be affected by the Schmallenberg virus, it's not thought it's a risk to humans.

During spring, around 16 million lambs will be born in the UK.