Incurable Virus Killing Thousands Of Lambs in UK

Posted on February 19, 2012


A new virus is causing lambs to be born with deformities so severe that they die within seconds.

It is thought midges brought the Schmallenberg virus to Britain from continental Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSDnews) last autumn.

The foetuses of newly-pregnant ewes bitten by the insects often fail to develop properly.

At Mayfield Farm near Mildenhall in Suffolk, 75 of the 1,700 lambs born so far this year were affected.

“In a ewe that was carrying twins, she would have a job lambing it. You would have to pull it out,” said farmer Clive Sleightholme.

“The legs were fused together and tucked underneath, its head was angular, not formed properly.

“They had undershot jaws and they weren’t fleshed out properly but nearly every one was alive when it was pulled out but only lived seconds up to a minute.”

The Schmallenberg virus, which is not thought to cause risk to humans, was first identified in Germany in November (Stuttgart: A0Z24Enews) . There have also been cases in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.


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