Schmallenberg Virus is a disease that affects cattle and sheep, which causes the birth of malformed calves and lambs.

This disease was first identified as late as 2011 in Germany so there is still much to learn about the disease.

What are the symptoms

The symptoms of Schmallenberg Virus are abortion and stillbirth in ruminants and malformation of offspring.

Telltale signs include bent limbs, fixed joints, stiff necks, curved spines, and shortened lower jaws.

Additionally, it can have a detrimental effect on the nervous system of the calf. Conditions like blindness, ataxia, recumbency, inability for suck, fits and ‘dummy’ calves can result.

In adult cattle, it presents as fever, reduced milk yield, inappetence, loss of body condition and, diarrhoea.

If this virus manifests in adult cattle, they can develop a fever and their milk will drop. It can occur as a congenital malformation in newborn or aborted animals.

How is it transmitted

Schmallenberg Virus is transmitted through infected midge and mosquito bites. It cannot be transmitted from animal to animal, apart from maternal transmission from mother to offspring in utero.

How is it cured/treated

There is no treatment currently available for this disease.

There is a vaccine available but it is not currently available in Ireland as it was discontinued due to lack of demand here in recent years.

How is it prevented

Watch out for what cattle you’re importing to your herd.

You can use insecticides to kill and repel the midges that carry the disease from going near your herd. If you do use them, observe a withdrawal period prior to presenting any animals onto the food chain.

Ensure calving is humane

If your calf makes it to term, Schmallenberg Virus can still be devastating, and calf malformations have the potential to cause a difficult calving.

If you aren’t expecting a Schmallenberg calf, equipping the Moocall calving sensor means you will be down and ready to assist the calving to ensure maximum animal welfare.