A CALF that tested positive for a cattle virus is believed to have been part of a Banbridge arm.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed that tests conducted on a malformed calf in Co Down by the Agri-Food and Bio-Sciences Institute (AFBI) identified the presence of Schmallenberg Virus (SBV).
Another calf from the same herd, while testing negative for SBV, displayed signs consistent with those associated with the disease.
The virus can affect all ruminant species and has been particularly evident in cattle and sheep populations. Scientific evidence from Europe suggests that the virus is spread by midges. If virus is present in the local midge population then it is likely that we will see further cases. The virus can affect all ruminant species and has been particularly evident in cattle and sheep populations. In sheep few if any signs are exhibited. If ruminant animals should become infected when pregnant, it can lead to abortion or malformations in the foetus.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This is the first case of the disease detected in the north. Yesterday the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine in Dublin reported the first case in the south, in Co Cork.
These developments are unsurprising, given the rapid spread of the virus across northern Europe and large parts of Britain since it was first identified in late 2011.
“While Schmallenberg Virus is recognised as a low impact disease, I appreciate the distress that it causes at an individual farm level. Any losses as a result of this disease are regrettable. I would encourage farmers if they suspect presence of the disease to contact their veterinary practitioner. Suspect cases that meet the clinical case definition will be investigated by AFBI.”
There are no human health implications associated with the disease, nor any food safety implications. The virus itself gives rise to only mild symptoms in cattle which are transient including fever, drop in milk yield and sometimes diarrhoea.