Sheep virus spreads to 27 Dutch farms

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The Schmallenberg virus which causes lambs to be born deformed has now been found at 27 Dutch farms, Agriculture Deputy Minister Hans Bleker has told parliament.

At 55 farms probes are still under way and no evidence of the virus has been found at 26 other farms, the deputy minister writes in a letter to parliament. Two days ago, the Schmallenberg virus was detected at four farms. In all, 107 farms have reported suspected outbreaks to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority NVWA. A further test for anti-bodies is expected to reveal more outbreaks.

The Schmallenberg virus, named after the German location where it was first identified on 18 November, is new in Europe. The Dutch GD Animal Health Service has been receiving reported cases since 1 December. It’s thought the animals may have been infected by gnats, a type of small fly.

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM says it is very unlikely the virus will affect humans. In Germany the virus was found in a deformed calf. In Belgium it has been identified at five sheep farms.

The NVWA authority in the Netherlands monitors food and consumer products to safeguard public and animal health and welfare. It controls the whole production chain, from raw materials and processing aids to end products and consumption.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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