The Schmallenberg virus has spread to 121 UK farms and has been found in Devon, Dorset, Cambridgeshire and Somerset for the first time, veterinary health authorities have announced.
An update from the Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency said eight of the positive cases had been diagnosed in cattle, with the remaining 113 in sheep.
No other species have to date tested positive for Schmallenberg in the UK, but the AHVLA has added a column for goats to the updates on its website, listing the number of Schmallenberg goat cases as zero. The Schmallenberg cases in the four new counties were all in sheep.
The AHVLA’s latest update came as Laura Sandys MP called for an immediate ban on the transportation of all livestock to and from the UK.
The Tory MP for South Thanet said as the virus appeared to be spread through midges, “transporting animals back and forth across the Channel must increase the likelihood of these midges being carried on animals and spreading the disease”.
She said there was a “very strong need” for the UK to mitigate the further spread of the virus.
“There are so many unknowns at present; there is no treatment or preventative vaccine available, nor are we are clear on how the virus is being transmitted,” she said.
“We are also still researching the level of infection in and between groups and whether or not an animal with the virus will be permanently affected. With such uncertainty about how the infection could spread I am calling for all international transportation of live animals to cease immediately.”