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Schmallenberg virus : new Akabane-like virus in cattle, sheep and goats in Europe - 2011/2012

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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: New Akabane-like virus in cattle and sheep in Europe


    Risk assessment: New Orthobunyavirus isolated from infected cattle and small livestock ─ potential implications for human health

    22 Dec 2011

    Main conclusions and recommendations:

    In early November 2011, a new orthobunyavirus, provisionally named the Schmallenberg virus, was detected by metagenomic analysis and virus isolation from infected cattle in Germany. Similar findings have been reported from the Netherlands, where lambs have also been infected with the same virus in utero, resulting in congenital malformations.

    Based on current evidence, it is not possible to confirm or exclude a causal relationship between detection of the new orthobunyavirus and the observed clinical symptoms in cattle and small livestock. Epidemiological, immunological and microbiological investigations are ongoing in Germany and the Netherlands.
    According to health authorities in Germany and the Netherlands, further cases in cattle and small livestock can be expected.

    Diagnostic capacity is currently limited to a real-time RT-PCR, which has to be further validated. Improved diagnostic methods, including serology, will facilitate identification of newly-affected holdings and geographic areas.
    Previously, genetically similar orthobunyaviruses have not caused disease in humans. It is therefore unlikely that this virus will cause disease in humans, but it cannot be excluded at this stage.

    Close collaboration between animal and human health services is necessary to ensure rapid detection of any change in the epidemiology of animals and humans. In particular, the health of farmers and veterinarians in close contact with potentially infected animals should be carefully monitored.

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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: New Akabane-like virus in cattle and sheep in Europe

    From ProMED:

    Date: Wed 21 Dec 2011

    From: Jet Mars, Petra Kock, Wim van der Poel and Piet Vellema [edited]

    Since December 2011, the Animal Health Service (GD) has received
    reports of the birth of deformed lambs born with defects such as
    torticollis (crooked neck), and arthrogryposis (deformed joints). Some
    deformed lambs were born dead. Until 16 Dec 2011, this was reported
    from 16 farms.

    Since last week, these symptoms have been reported from another 14
    farms, bringing the total to 30 farms. The affected farms are spread
    throughout the entire country.

    Affected lambs have been submitted for postmortem examinations at GD.
    In some lambs, brain abnormalities were observed, such as
    hydranencephaly or hypoplasia. On 16 Dec 2011, samples from 8 lambs
    (from 2 farms) were tested by the CVI; in 2 lambs from the same farm,
    the Schmallenberg virus was detected in brain tissue by RT-PCR (FLI,
    Germany). On 19 Dec 2011, another 27 lambs from 9 farms had been
    tested, and Schmallenberg virus was found in another 14 lambs (from 4

    It was concluded that the Schmallenberg virus is the cause of the
    disease. Earlier, other pathogens, which may cause similar clinical
    signs, were excluded.

    Two calves with arthrogryposis (from 2 farms) were also tested for
    Schmallenberg virus by RT-PCR, but in these 2 calves, the virus was
    not detected. However, it should be noted that Schmallenberg virus
    cannot be excluded as the cause of malformations in these calves,
    since it has been reported in literature that in orthobunyavirus
    infections in cattle (like Akabane virus), the virus is often not
    detected in newborn calves with deformities unless they are aborted
    well before term.

    Petra Kock
    Animal Health Service

    Wim van der Poel
    Central Veterinary Institute of the Wageningen University and Research

    Piet Vellema, Animal Health Service

    Jet Mars
    Diagnostic Development, Research and Epidemiology
    Animal Health Service (GD),
    POB 9, 7400 AA Deventer
    The Netherlands

    Fragment of comment from ProMED moderator:

    addition of "new" cases is, in fact, not to be regarded as a "spread"
    of a disease; it reflects infections which, in fact, took place 3-4
    months ago, when the foeti were infected in-utero during their 2nd or
    3rd month of development.

    If bovine foeti have been infected as well during the named season
    (August-September 2011), the appearance of CNS-damaged calves
    (hydranencephaly, etc.) is to be expected, mainly in February-March
    2012, while arthrogryposis might appear earlier.

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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: New Akabane-like virus in cattle and sheep in Europe

    Update: 28 sheepfarms have found deformed lambs; 15 more holdings are under suspicion.

    Livestock farmers worried about new virus

    Tuesday 20 December 2011

    Dutch livestock farmers are 'extremely worried' about a new virus which has been identified in adult cattle and in deformed lambs, Trouw reported on Tuesday evening.

    The virus has been named the Schmallenberg virus after the German location where it was first identified on November 18, the paper says. It is related to a group of viruses known as Orthobunya, which are usually found in Asia, Africa and Australia and do not transfer directly to humans.

    Trouw says since the beginning of December, 20 farms nationwide have reported the birth of lambs with brain or limb malformations, all of which were born dead or died soon after. The lambs all appear to be carrying the same virus as was reported in adult cattle on nine farms in the east of the country earlier this year.

    'Our big fear is that unborn cattle have been infected,' virologist Wim van der Poel from Wageningen University told the paper.

    The disease may have been spread by gnats, which benefited from the warm autumn, Trouw said.

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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: New Akabane-like virus in cattle and sheep in Europe

    Risk Profile Humaan Schmallenbergvirus

    Prepared by Chantal Reusken and Marion Koopmans
    National institute of public health and the environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


    1) Based on the considerations mentioned above, zoonotic transmission of Schmallenbergvirus can not be excluded but is considered unlikely.

    2). The clinical syndrome associated with Schmallenberg virus in cattle peaked during the months August and September. Currently the circulation/transmission of Schmallenberg virus in cattle seems to have faded out. The recent increase in delivery of malformed lambs – if proven to be related to the infection- is likely resulting from intra-uterine exposure during prior months.

    3). If one would assume that Schmallenberg virus has zoonotic potential, there is no acute risk for human population at present (December 2011) when considering the vectorial transmission route (most likely midges). However, exposure risk during abortion or delivery of affected ruminants due to Schmallenberg virus is unknown.
    4). There have been no reports of unusual illness in humans in the months when the cattle syndrome peaked.

    5) The outbreak in cattle in Germany and the Netherlands could reoccur in the vector season in 2012 (based on epidemiology other orthobunyaviruses and bluetongue virus: survival in midges during winter). In this case these outbreaks should be monitored closely from a public health perspective: an increased awareness for putative zoonotic events is indicated, for instance by implementation of a surveillance system.

    6) We advice to initiate a monitoring system for diseases among professionals (farmers, veterinarians) that have been in close contact with abortion products or who conducted deliveries of affected calves/lambs. They will be advised to contact the local municipal health services. The national center for control of infectious diseases (LCI) will coordinate this system.

    7) Currently, diagnostic methods for this virus are limited to RT-PCR, and have not been validated. Improved diagnostic methods will be developed in the near future. The CIb is in contact with the FLI and CVI to prepare for laboratory response, in case such is needed.

    Full report: RIVM

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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: New Akabane-like virus in cattle and sheep in Europe

    Cache Valley Virus has been diagnosed not only in sheep, but also in cattle in the U.S., causing stillbirths, congenital anomalies(namely arthrogryposis-hydroencephaly or A-H) and a significant decrease in fertility rate.



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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: New Akabane-like virus in cattle and sheep in Europe

    Contrary to other reports, a vaccin doesn't seem to be available for Cache Valley Virus.

    Sheepproducers in North Dakota, US can use insecticide-treated ear tags .

    Pressrelease from Min of Agriculture ND:

    Goehring OKs ear tags to protect sheep from mosquitoes

    Submitted December 13, 2011

    BISMARCK ? North Dakota sheep producers can now use insecticide-treated ear tags to protect their animals from exposure to a serious, mosquito-borne disease.

    ?We had a rash of Cache Valley virus outbreaks across North Dakota in 2010,? said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. ?I have therefore issued a special local needs (SLN) registration to Y-TEX Corp., allowing sheep producers to use PYthon? Insecticide Cattle Ear Tags to better control mosquitoes that carry the virus.?

    Cache Valley virus can cause abortions, stillbirths, congenital abnormalities and weak lambs. Elsewhere in the country, sheep producers have recorded lamb losses from the virus as high as 80 percent. No effective treatments or vaccines are available.

    The PYthon tags are only registered for use on cattle to repel flies, lice and ticks. The SLN registration allows use of the tags on sheep to repel biting mosquitoes.

    ?No federally registered products are available that adequately manage mosquitoes and prevent transmission of the virus,? Goehring said. ?I am confident the situation meets the criteria of being a special local need.?
    The SLN labeling allows one tag per head of sheep. Use is prohibited on sheep less than three months of age. The product labeling provides detailed instructions on securing the tags to ears, as well as a requirement to remove tags before slaughter.

    Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act gives states the authority to register additional uses for federally registered pesticide products, or new products to meet special local needs. EPA reviews these registrations. Labeling for all active SLN registrations in North Dakota is available for viewing and downloading on the North Dakota online pesticide registration database,

    Goehring said he relied on research and information from North Dakota State University sheep specialist Reid Redden in issuing the SLN registration.

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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: New Akabane-like virus in cattle and sheep in Europe

    New European Schmallenbergvirus seems to resemble the Cache Valley Virus in the US

    The "Cache Valley Virus" is endemic in de United States.

    The sheep disease is causing stillbirths and deformed lambs. The symptoms caused by the "new" Schmallenbergvirus in the Netherlands and Germany seem to match the descriptions of the disease in the US.

    A striking detail: a possible human infection of a deerhunter. Apparently untill now it was a single case, an execption, because Akabane-like viruses don't infect humans. (Link to article: Life-Threatening Cache Valley Virus Infection )

    Much seems to be unknown about the Cache Valley Virus.

    In the US a vaccin is available.

    Cache Valley Virus

    Cache valley virus is a bunyavirus that causes fetal death, still-birth and congenital malformations such as arthrogryposis and anencephaly in sheep. This is an arbovirus that is transmitted by mosquitoes.

    Cache Valley virus as a human pathogen?

    Cache Valley virus has been suggested to be a cause of neural tube defects in humans, although a study in 1997 could not serologically link infection with anencephaly and other defects.

    Cache Valley virus was isolated from a deer hunter in North Carolina who suffered life-threatening, multi-organ failure, and recent serologic evidence suggests that deer may be a reservoir in nature.

    However, the true zoonotic impact of Cache Valley virus remains to be determined, and people are most likely infected via mosquito bites rather than by direct contact with infected animals.


    Edwards, J.F. and K. Hendricks. 1997. Lack of serologic evidence for an association between Cache Valley virus infection and anencephaly and other neural tube defects in Texas. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 3:195-197.

    McLean, R.G. et al. 1996. The role of deer as a possible reservoir host of potosi virus, a newly recognized arbovirus in the United States. J. Wildlife Dis. 32:444-452. (Also discusses CVV serology in deer)

    Sexton, D.J. et al. 1997. Life-threatening Cache Valley virus infection. N. Eng. J. Med. 336:547-549.


    Another report on Cache Valley Virus, with informative comment from the ProMEDmail moderator:

    A ProMED-mail post
    ProMED-mail is a program of the
    International Society for Infectious Diseases

    Date: 14 Jan 2011

    Source: [edited]

    The Cache Valley virus may have been responsible for recent abortions in sheep in central North Dakota.

    "Preliminary laboratory investigation implicates the Cache Valley virus," says Neil Dyer, director of North Dakota State University's (NDSU) Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

    Determining whether Cache Valley was the cause of the abortions is difficult because the virus is not viable by the time its effects are noticed, he adds. Diagnosis often requires the demonstration of viral antibodies in serum or body fluids.

    "It has the most detrimental effect on ewes during the 1st trimester of pregnancy," says Reid Redden, NDSU Extension Service sheep specialist. "Wet and warm conditions during the late summer and fall of 2010 were just right to propagate this disease."

    Embryonic loss and fetal reabsorption occur in ewes that were infected with the virus within 30 days after breeding. Ewes infected with the Cache Valley virus from 30 to 45 days after breeding often will develop various congenital abnormalities affecting the nervous system, resulting in abortions, dystocia, weak lambs, stillbirths and lambs with severe structural deformities.

    Lambs born alive are often too weak to survive and die within minutes of birth. Lambs born to ewes that were infected with the virus after 45 days of pregnancy may have no adverse effects.

    "There is no effective treatment for lambs or ewes after the viral outbreak has occurred, nor is there a readily available vaccine," Redden says. "However, ewes that have been exposed to the virus appear to have lifetime immunity."

    The most effective method of protecting ewes from the Cache Valley virus is to minimize their exposure to mosquito-infested areas during and shortly after the breeding season.

    Numerous other infectious diseases also could result in abortions, as well as stillbirths and weak lambs, so producers who suspect the Cache Valley virus is in their flock should consult with their local veterinarian and/or the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to confirm the diagnosis, Redden says.

    -- communicated by: ProMED-mail

    [Cache Valley virus (CVV) is similar to Akabane virus. CVV is a mosquitoborne member of the Bunyviradae family. The disease is currently considered endemic in the United States.

    Clinical signs in sheep include aborted fetuses, arthrogryposis (limb malformation), brachygnathia (lower jaw malformation), hydrocephaly (water on the brain), microcephaly (small brain), and spinal cord hypoplasia (under development) if the lamb is born alive. Those born alive usually do not survive long. The virus appears to have a predilection for the neurological tissue. The earlier in gestation the virus was acquire, the more severe the predilection. Infections between days 28-32 of gestation usually result in mummification and embryonic loss.

    Congenital malformation and detection of the antibodies in the fetal fluids greatly aid diagnosis. While an absence of antibodies in the dam is significant, absence of antibody detection in the lamb does not preclude diagnosis of the disease.

    In some areas vaccine is available and it should be used 30-60 days prior to breeding in an effort to prevent the disease. However, reducing the insect population, use of insect repellants and moving the flock away from low lying, water prone areas are also very helpful in preventing the disease. And some of these measures may be difficult to implement.

    Cache Valley virus (CVV), a mosquitoborne member of the Bunyamwera serogroup, family Bunyaviridae, genus Orthobunyavirus, is geographically widespread in North America, where it circulates between mosquitoes and mammals (1). It has previously been associated with only a single case of human disease, a fatal case of acute encephalitis in the southeastern United States (2).

    1. Calisher CH, Francy DB, Smith GC, Muth DJ, Lazuick JS, Karabatsos N, et al. Distribution of Bunyamwera serogroup viruses in North America, 1956*1984. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1986;35:429-43.

    2. Sexton DJ, Rollin PE, Breitschwerdt EB, Corey GR, Myers SA, Dumais MR, et al. Life-threatening Cache Valley virus infection. N Engl J Med. 1997;336:547*9.

    Portions of this comment were extracted from - Mod.TG


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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: New orthobunyavirus detected in cattle in Germany - Spreading to the Netherlands

    Very informative article.

    The Schmallenbergvirus - found in Germany and the Netherlands - is an Akabane-like virus.

    Important note: Human infections with Akabane virus have not been reported.

    Akabane Disease

    Akabane disease is a viral disease of ruminants that is mainly characterized by
    fetal damage. Inapparent infections in adults can lead months later to abortions,
    stillbirths and congenital defects in newborns.

    Most affected neonates die or must be euthanized. Before vaccines were developed,
    Akabane disease caused significant economic losses in some countries.
    Between 1972 and 1975, this virus resulted in the birth of more than 42,000 abnormal
    calves in Japan.

    A few strains of Akabane virus can also cause outbreaks of encephalomyelitis in
    calves and adult cattle. The latter syndrome has been considered rare, but in 2006,
    an outbreak affected nearly 200 cattle in Japan. There is no treatment for Akabane disease.

    read more:

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  • Gert van der Hoek
    Re: New orthobunyavirus detected in cattle in Germany - Spreading to the Netherlands

    Link to report (in English) of Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut :

    New Orthobunyavirus detected in cattle in Germany - PDF

    New virus confirmed in cows and sheep in the Netherlands

    Deformed lambs were found in the Netherlands. Cows showed diarhea, fever and a decline in milkproduction.

    Today the virus was confirmed in the Netherlands.

    More news, in Dutch:

    Orthobunyaviruses of cattle are widely distributed in Oceania, Australia and Africa and, as a rule, initially cause very mild clinical symptoms.

    If pregnant animals are infected, however, temporarily delayed, sometimes considerable congenital damages, premature births and reproductive disorders may occur. Akabane-like viruses are mainly transmitted by biting midges. These viruses, which are of relevance for cattle, do not represent a threat to humans.

    They are not zoonotic. The relationship of the “Schmallenberg virus” with Shamonda, Aino and Akabane virus does not suggest a risk for humans.


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  • Schmallenberg virus : new Akabane-like virus in cattle, sheep and goats in Europe - 2011/2012

    New orthobunyavirus detected in cattle in Germany

    SCOFCAH Brussels 6 December 2011

    Link to presentation