Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Schmallenberg Virus A Warning

IBT, via nc links:
Schmallenberg virus - named after the German town where it was first detected in November - infected sheep and cows on at least 2,600 farms in eight EU countries last year, most likely between August and October.

Thought to have been spread for hundreds of miles across Europe by biting midges and warm late summer winds, the virus has since been confirmed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain and Britain.

It is particularly harmful to the offspring of animals infected during early pregnancy, resulting in stillbirths and malformations such as brain deformities, twisted spines and locked joints.

The impact on EU livestock production has been limited, and all the evidence so far shows that the virus poses no risk to humans. But scientists and officials say the rapid emergence and spread of Schmallenberg should be a cause for concern.

"It is certainly a warning for the whole world in the sense that, unfortunately, new threats may emerge," said Alberto Laddomada, a former virologist who heads the animal health unit at the European Commission.

"This virus has spread very, very quickly in the European Union amongst an animal population of many millions. Considering the massive spread in a population that is fully susceptible, the virus itself has had a limited impact," he told Reuters.
It sounds like it only impacts animals' offspring if they are in the early stages of pregnancy, then the animals are immune. It sure is scary that a disease can spread that quickly, though.

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