Friday, December 15, 2017

Farmers advised to secure Schmallenberg vaccine early

December 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Livestock

Livestock producers are being urged to secure Schmallenberg in good time to protect animals into next year.

The virus is now said to be endemic in the UK. Schmallenberg was confirmed on 141 holdings with lambs across England, Wales and Scotland between December 2016 and May 2017, and 76 holdings with calves up until June this year.

But the number of actual cases is suspected to be a lot higher, said Carolyn Hogan, national vet manager at Zoetis. “We suspect there has been significant under-reporting of Schmallenberg, and this year we have seen it in areas where we have not seen it before.”

Ms Hogan said the rise in cases could be because the virus had been circulating at a low level for some time – or it could have been a new incursion from Europe. As livestock immunity declined, animals became infected again, she suggested. “We don’t precisely know.”

Protection

Vaccination is the only sure method of protection against Schmallenberg virus. Limited supplies of Zulvac SBV – which became available from Zoetis last month – are expected to be the only available vaccine this year. But they can be stored and used next year.

There are assumptions that a herd or flock is immune once it has been infected, but not every animal will have been infected and therefore not every animal will have immunity. Without testing, farmers will be unable to distinguish immune animals from those which are not.

Losses

Supplies of Zulvac SBV will be limited so farmers are being advised to secure stock early, as it can be used into next year too. Ms Hogan said that while many farmers will have seen losses from Schmallenberg this year, other flocks and herds will have escaped infection.

“Even those which didn’t escape infection may be only partially immune if only a proportion of the animals were infected. This means vaccination has an important role to play in ensuring the whole flock/herd is protected, thereby preventing future lamb and calf crop losses,” she said.

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