Today my fellow blogger nahrvalur reminded me about Schmallenberg virus (SBV). That emerging disease which is carried by midges and which deforms lambs, kids, calves and fawns.
I hadn’t forgotten SBV, with farmers in my family-in-law, but this year their herds and flocks have been lucky enough not to get this disease. Many other farms have been hit, though. Nahrvalur tells us about SBV in Ireland. For mainland Britain, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency provides SBV data until last month.
So here we are. SBV has its claws on, and farms are under snow while lambing is underway. But farmers are stoic people who’ve seen many bad seasons before. Last year was terrible. It’s a classic joke to say that sheep aren’t stupid: they’re very good at thinking of new ways to die. And many farmers remember deeper snows than the ones we have now. They remember other diseases too – foot and mouth, scrapie – the list goes on. Now the list includes SBV.
There’s a newly invented SBV vaccine which is under consideration for a licence. We can hope that the vaccine will be approved for vets to use before the tups are put to the sheep again.