Schmallenberg virus at Dutch sheep farms

Schmallenberg virus at Dutch sheep farms

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) has to date (30-12-2011) received reports from 108 farms of symptoms that could indicate infection with the Schmallenberg virus. These reports came from 67 sheep farms, 40 cattle farms and 1 goat farm. The virus has been confirmed at 27 sheep farms, and remains unconfirmed at 26 farms. The other 55 farms are still being investigated.

In a letter to the House of Representatives, Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade Henk Bleker explained that the fact the Schmallenberg virus has not been confirmed at 26 farms does not mean that the possibility of infection can be ruled out, as infection occurs at an early stage of pregnancy. A virus antibody test, which would provide confirmation, is under development, and the number of infected farms is likely to rise further when the virus antibody test becomes available.

In Germany the virus has been detected in a malformed calf and in Belgium 5 sheep farms have tested positive for the virus. No malformations have yet been reported in France, Luxembourg or the United Kingdom, but these countries are monitoring the situation closely.

Experts from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (RIVM) have already concluded that, based on all available information, transmission of the virus to humans cannot be excluded, but is highly unlikely. This analysis has now been adopted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The Ministry of Health Welfare and Sport and RIVM are monitoring the situation closely and are intensively involved in follow-up studies

As can be seen from the reports from Germany and Belgium, this issue not only affects the Netherlands. For this reason my Ministry is maintaining close contact with the European Commission and other Member States. Minister Bleker will invest fully in scientific follow-up studies in the area of diagnosis (primarily the demonstration of antibodies), epidemiology (introduction and spread), vaccine development and virus characterisation. The researchers from various institutes like the Animal Health Service (GD), the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI) and RIVM have already started this research, in close consultation with their German colleagues. Minister Bleker has also asked European Commissioner Dalli to support this research at European level.

Source: government.nl

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