This article is informational only. This virus HAS NOT BEEN FOUND in the U.S.
19. February 7, Wired – (International)
Fast-spreading animal virus leaps Europe, UK borders. A newly identified disease is moving rapidly through livestock in Europe and has authorities worried and puzzled, Wired reported February 7. The disease, dubbed Schmallenberg virus for a town in west-central Germany where one of the first outbreaks occurred, makes adult animals only mildly ill, but causes lambs, kids, and calves to be born dead or deformed. The United Kingdom’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AVHLA) said February 7 the virus has been found on 29 farms in England; in the past few weeks they found it in sheep, but announced hey have identified it in cattle as well. In mainland Europe, it has been identified on several hundred farms in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and France. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said the new virus’s closest relatives do not cause disease in humans — but that other more distantly related viruses do. The viral vector is believed to be midges and mosquitoes. The disease does not pass from adult animal to another animal, but apparently does from a mother animal to offspring in utero, and that is why it is showing up now: It is lambing season. With Europe enduring its coldest winter in decades, there are no virus-carrying insects flying around now. Instead, the animals giving birth to deformed and dead offspring were infected last summer and fall. No one has been able to say so far whether the organism can survive in insects over the winter. Agricultural media are starting to record the economic fallout, including a Russian ban on European livestock, and the possibility of a ban on shipping live animals and sales.