Survey launches to establish ongoing UK impacts of Schmallenberg virus

A new survey is now open allowing vet students on lambing placements to identify the prevalence of deformed lambs – an indicator of the presence of Schmallenberg virus (SBV).

As the UK experiences a phase of heightened SBV risk, the survey has been launched by Ruminant Health and Welfare (RH&W) with the support of a number of UK vet colleges.

New disease

The group has also worked with its members, including the National Sheep Association, Sheep Veterinary Society and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, to identify if SBV impacts lambing in 2022.

Nigel Miller, RH&W chair, said: “SBV is a relatively new disease to the UK, first identified in 2012-13, and is transmitted by biting midges.

“Often, the first physical impact of SBV in sheep is lamb deformities at birth, and we believe that the knowledge from the survey can increase understanding of both the epidemiology and potential management of this virus.”

Increased risk

Nigel Miller.

Mr Miller added: “As studies reveal that UK flocks are predicted to be entering a phase of increased risk, we’re grateful for the support from host farms to help us work with a new generation of vet students during their lambing placements.

“We are asking them to capture data on deformities seen in lambs over the lambing period, which will provide evidence for the spread of SBV and will offer a key insight of the national picture on SBV at a county level.”

Data report

The online survey closes on 16 May 2022, and has been sent directly to students who have been asked to complete it as soon as possible after the end of their placement.

Once all data is collected and interpreted, a report will be produced and shared with vet students, host farms, and the wider industry in early summer.


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