The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has today confirmed that tests carried out at the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, have identified the presence of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) in samples from a bovine foetus submitted for post mortem examination from a farm in Co. Cork.
The Department has been carrying out surveillance since February 2012 and this is the first time that the presence of the virus has been identified in Ireland. As the virus has been spreading rapidly across Europe over the past year, finding evidence of the virus in Ireland is not unexpected. The Department is carrying out epidemiological investigations seeking to establish the likely source of infection. The virus does not given rise to any human health concerns, nor has it any food safety implications. In general, the virus causes mild disease in adult cattle, whilst it is not seen to cause any clinical signs in adult sheep or goats. The clinical signs which were seen in cattle in Europe during 2011 and 2012 are transient, and include fever, a drop in milk production and sometimes diarrhoea. When infection occurs in animals that are not pregnant, the impact is very limited. However if ruminant animals are infected during the early stages of pregnancy, they may subsequently abort or give birth to malformed offspring.
Whilst Schmallenberg virus is not a notifiable disease, the Department will continue to carry out surveillance for Schmallenberg virus. Farmers are asked to contact their veterinary practitioner if they encounter cases of aborted foetuses or newborn animals showing malformations or nervous signs. Veterinary practitioners should then contact their Regional Veterinary Laboratory if they suspect infection with the virus. Currently there is no licensed vaccine available.