Research goes on into the Schmallenberg virus

In Germany, just over a year ago, the Schmallenberg virus or SBV originated although now it is being seen in numerous countries in Europe. From Wales to England, nearly 1,000 cases have been reported on farms and as lambing season advances, extreme losses have been reported by farmers.

In November  2011, in Schmallenberg, Germany the  virus was first discovered. This virus spread hastily to several countries in Europe, including France, the Netherlands, the UK, and Belgium with infected midges as the main culprit for spreading the virus.

In adult sheep and cattle, Schmallenberg virus can cause relatively benign illness, but towards the early stages of birth, the virus results in stillbirths and congenital disorders of calves and lambs. Arboviruses, or a class of viruses that insects spread may be the cause for a low likelihood that the public could be affected, as said by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. From the University of Glasgow, Scottish researchers Alain Kohl and Massimo Palmarini made an artificial version of the Schmallenberg virus in the lab to research how it infects animals from farms and its genetics.

Research shows that if the virus passes to lambs or calves during pregnancy, the virus replicates in spinal cords and brain cells of their unborn. To create versions of the virus that were less or more lethal, researchers took the genetic sequence into manipulation.

For establishing a cure for the livestock virus, researchers say their hard work advances hopes. In January last year, the UK reported cases and that following summer it spread to Wales and England.

Midges swept over the Channel are believed to have carried the virus to England, and then in summer native midges spread them further, which is why for the lambing season this year, farmers are on the alert for this virus.