You may of heard of the schmallenberg virus which is presenting a new threat to sheep this year. SchmallenbergIt had received a lot of attention in the press in the last couple of weeks because of the potential damage that it might cause to sheep across the country. It’s a new virus, which was only identified in Europe last year, current indications are that it is carried by midges, and infects the sheep by biting. Any infection will have occurred late last summer and into the Autumn. The results of any infection are serious, the virus attacks the unborn foetus of a pregnant ewe. There have been a little over 70 infected farms in the UK, and these farms have reported lamb losses of between 5 and 15%.
So as the Borough Farm lambing season approaches at the end of March, it is with some trepidation this year. Although the virus has mainly been seen in the south east, and none in north devon, it still gives cause for concern.
The only positive is that there is absolutely no risk of infection of humans in any way, so it remains just a sheep and cattle problem. Efforts are already underway to develop a vaccine, so we hope that in 18 months we will be able to vaccinate, but sadly until then it will just be a case of hoping.
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