As reported here, APHA will again be offering free of charge testing for suspected cases of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection. This will apply to cattle, as well as small ruminants.

During 2021, there were six diagnoses of Schmallenberg virus associated fetopathy for cattle. In addition, there were at least 23 fetuses submitted with gross pathology suggestive of SBV associated fetopathy, but with negative SBV PCR results. A proportion of these also had dam serum samples submitted and six of these had positive SBV antibody results. There were interesting findings associated with the cases from which a negative SBV result was obtained, including the Osteogenesis Imperfecta cases reported in our Quarter 2 (April to June) 2021 report: GB cattle quarterly report – Disease surveillance and emerging threats (publishing.service.gov.uk) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1022545/pub-survrep-c0221.pdf

This calving season APHA will again offer to test samples free of charge. A fresh brain sample (brain stem is preferred) will be tested free of charge, if submitted to APHA from calves with arthrogryposis, or other musculoskeletal deformities.

The detection of the virus in brain tissue is dependent on the stage of gestation that the fetus became infected, and therefore a PCR test may be negative despite SBV involvement. In addition, serum samples can also be submitted from up to 6 cows/heifers, including those that abort calves, in order to test for antibodies to SBV.
Please contact your local VIC for more information and to discuss either appropriate sampling, or the submission of a fetus. The submission of a fetus and placenta may be preferable for the investigation of other causes of abortion in addition to SBV.

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