Schmallenberg virus detected in bovine foetus in Ireland – no implications for human health


Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is a novel Orthobunyavirus that has caused an outbreak in ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats) in many countries in Europe in the past year. Since November 2011, Schmallenberg virus has been reported in cattle, sheep and goats in eight EU Member States: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. On 30th October, the disease was first reported in a bovine foetus in Ireland. See here for more details.

The disease causes transient clinical symptoms in adult cattle (fever, diarrhoea, reduced milk yield, etc.) and congenital malformation in newborn ruminants. The virus is transmitted via insect vectors, mainly midges. Animal to animal transmission does not occur.

Based on studies carried out in Germany and the Netherlands, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), in its risk assessment has concluded that the risk of infection of individuals exposed to SBV is absent or extremely low and that it is very unlikely that SBV poses a risk to humans.

As a general precaution, animal workers, farmers and veterinarians are advised to follow existing protective hygiene measures when working with livestock and abortion material.