- Schmallenberg virus, aka SBV, is an emerging livestock disease that has been detected in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the UK.
- Outbreaks of disease in adult cattle and birth complications in cattle, sheep and goats were reported between August and November 2011 in both the Netherlands and Germany.
- A new virus was identified in December 2011 as the cause of both conditions, named ‘Schmallenberg virus’ after the German town where the virus was identified.
- In early 2012, the first cases were suspected in the south and east of England, diagnosed following the testing of deformed lambs.
- The Schmallenberg virus is of the family Bunyavirus, genus Orthobunyavirus.
- Several viruses in the genus cause diseases in cattle and are transmitted by insects.
- Schmallenberg virus is in the Simbu serogroup of the Orthobunyavirus genus, which includes many different viruses that occur in Asia, Africa and Australia, but have not previously been identified in Europe.
- Genetic characterisation has shown that SBV is closest to several viruses known to be pathogenic in animals.
- Shamonda, Aino and Akabane viruses in the Simbu serogroup are known to cause subclinical infections in a large proportion of infected animals.
- There is no evidence that the Schmallenberg virus causes disease in humans (see Public health risk).
- There is no vaccine for the SBV at this stage.