Schmallenberg virus confirmed in Jersey sheep

The Schmallenberg virus has been found in sheep in Jersey, the states veterinary officer has announced.

Linda Lowseck confirmed the virus was found in samples from a sheep flock owner whose animals had problems lambing.

The virus, affecting cattle, sheep and goats, is borne by midges and can cause ewes to give birth to deformed lambs.

Mrs Lowseck said the virus was likely to have come to Jersey by windborne midges in autumn.

She said the virus could lead to the loss or temporary suspension of the export trade, particularly concerning bovine embryos.

There have been dozens of reports of the Schmallenberg virus across England and cases have been reported in Normandy, France.

Mrs Lowseck said livestock owners who were concerned for the welfare of their herds and flocks, particularly when lambing and calving, should contact their own vet.

She said: "Arrangements have been made for a speaker from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency to come to Jersey and give a presentation on the Schmallenberg virus on Tuesday, 10 April."

Dr Ivan Muscat, consultant microbiologist for Health and Social Services, said there was no evidence to date that the virus causes human disease or could affect pregnant women or their babies.

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