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Epidemiological update: Schmallenberg virus isolated from infected cattle and small livestock in the European Union, potential implications for human health

25 Jan 2012

Schmallenberg virus is a newly recognised Orthobunyavirus that was first detected in November 2011 in cattle in the Netherlands and Germany. As of 25 January, the disease has been detected in cattle, sheep and goats in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and more recently in sheep in the United Kingdom.

The disease causes transient clinical signs in adult cattle (fever, diarrhoea, reduced milk yield etc.) and congenital malformation in newborn animals. The virus is primarily transmitted via biting midges.

Epidemiological, immunological and microbiological investigations are ongoing in the affected countries and animal surveillance has also been strengthened in the neighbouring countries.

Genetically closely related Orthobunyaviruses have not been shown to cause disease in humans. Therefore, disease in humans is unlikely but cannot be excluded at this stage. The animal and human health services are closely collaborating to ensure rapid detection of any change in the epidemiology in animals and humans, particularly in people with close contacts with animals (farmers, veterinarians, etc.).

Read ECDC's risk assessment 'New Orthobunyavirus isolated from infected cattle and small livestock potential implications for human health', 22 December 2011

Read about European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) actions: EFSA requested to support EU with work on Schmallenberg virus

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