With lambing for early lambing flocks just a matter of weeks away members are reminded that Schmallenberg virus is having a significant impact on many flocks already lambing.
Reports from early lambing flocks in other breeds suggest that high levels of infection are present in some flocks, with the resultant losses at dramatic levels too.
As a result NSA is urging affected breeders to report any incidence of Schmallenberg to their vets and urge them to report it to AHVLA.
NSA is developing a plan for the industry to take a more proactive approach to the disease. NSA chief executive Phil Stocker says he believes this is necessary as AHVLA and other Government agencies will only start collecting more than the very basic level of information if SBV is made notifiable, a move that will have unwelcome implications on the UK’s ability to trade with Europe and further afield.
“It would be great if the Government could collect this data, so we better understood the situation and how to implement control strategies, including vaccination programmes once a vaccine is available. However, given the reality of the situation, NSA feels very strongly that industry should pull together and ensure an alternative solution is found."
Members who did not see Schmallenberg last year are reminded that the virus can have a devastating impact on unborn lambs. Crucially infected ewes will have shown few if any symptoms at the time of infection.
The main consequence of infection is seen in deformed lambs, born at full term. Symptoms seen in cases last year include extended limbs which are fused, deformed heads and lambs that show few signs of normal behaviour ‘stupid lambs’. In some cases ewes giving birth to twins may have one deformed lamb and one normal lamb.
When a deformed lamb is suspected care should be taken when lambing the ewe as deformed lambs, particularly those with fused limbs can do severe damage to ewes.
There is currently no vaccine licensed for Schmallenberg virus, but it is hoped that one will be available for next year.