South East Wales

Abergavenny farmer fears Schmallenberg virus will hit livestock

Sheep grazing
Image caption Schmallenberg virus is thought to have been brought to England by midges blown over the Channel

A farmer says it is only a matter of time before the Schmallenberg virus which causes birth defects and miscarriages in livestock reaches Wales.

Chief vet Dr Christianne Glossop said tests have been held on Welsh farms but there have been no confirmed cases.

The disease has been affecting livestock in England.

Abergavenny farmer Gary Yeomans said: "I'm sure it is going to hit somewhere in south Wales before too long."

The goat farmer told BBC Radio Wales: "It's already in Gloucestershire and every time we look at the farming press and the news it is getting a little bit closer.

"It's obviously very worrying.

"Here, we are in the middle of the goats kidding at the moment so we are very vigilant."

With a vaccine some way off, he suggested delaying lambing and kidding next year "well into the winter" so any midges which carry the virus have been killed off by the frost.

"That may help for next year but obviously it is too late for this year," he said.

"I'm sure it is going to hit somewhere in south Wales before too long."

Humans are thought to be unaffected by the virus.

that as the peak of the lambing season approached, there would "probably" be some cases of the virus.

She said Schmallenberg was a new virus and first appeared in Germany and then in other northern European countries last year.

In England, it has now been identified on the Isle of Wight and in Wiltshire, West Berkshire and Gloucestershire.

This is in addition to farms in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, East and West Sussex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Hampshire and Cornwall, which have previously identified cases.

Infection is apparently symptomless in adult sheep. However, the virus can damage the foetus when pregnant females are infected, leading to a range of deformities at birth.

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