XLVets conduct UK wide surveillance for Schmallenberg Virus

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    Utilising the bulk milk test available from Biobest in Edinburgh, the XLVets group have tested cattle herds across the length of the UK. Charlie Lambert, one of the Directors, said that the opportunity came about following liaison with Biobest. “Because we have a group of 49 practices from Orkney to Penzance, this was a good opportunity to find out the extent of the spread of SBV,” he commented, adding, “We’ve had an excellent response from our member practices.” The provisional results confirm that the virus is widespread across most parts of the UK. Scotland remains largely clear and most of England and Wales have returned strongly positive samples, but with a more variable pattern in the far north of England. Paul Burr of Biobest explained that this patchy pattern in Northern England probably reflected local weather and the numbers of midges blown in by particular winds.

    Andrew Curwen, the XLVets Chief Executive, said, “As well as obtaining the milk, we’ve determined which farms have had no animal movements from areas known to have been already affected by SBV. The important fact emerging from the work is the confirmation that the virus is very widely distributed across the UK.”

    It is likely that some farms have been infected at the crucial point of pregnancy when the foetus is at greatest risk. As a result, farmers struggling with a difficult calving or lambing in the spring should consider that deformities might be present.  The risk of this occurring and what practical measures can be taken should be discussed with their vet, ideally as part of the preparations for lambing or calving.