Action urged on killer lamb virus

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A FARMER who lost 75 lambs to a killer virus has urged others to come forward if they have been affected.

Andrew Foulds, owner of Mayfield Farm in West Row, lost scores of his 1,700 lambs in January to the Schmallenberg virus (SBV).

Lambs born with the disease die almost immediately having developed deformed limbs.

According to Mr Foulds, more farmers need to tell Defra if their lambs have been affected by the illness so preventative measures can be put in place.

“At the moment, we don’t know if we are dealing with 30 cases or 300. I suspect there are many more out there.

“I can understand how farmers are concerned that speaking up could affect business, but the word needs to get out there so we can work out how to stop it,” he said.

The latest testing results from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) show that there are 10 sheep farms affected by SBV in Suffolk and 14 in Norfolk.

The virus also affects cattle but cases have been much rarer, with only one farm in Suffolk confirmed as being affected at this point.

A spokesman for Defra said it believed the virus originated in Northern Europe and spread to England by midge and mosquito bites.

He said: “As farmers, vets and governments continue to gather information about the progress and effects of this disease, it’s vital that farmers continue to report any suspicions they have as soon as possible.”

Farmers should continue to take standard biosecurity measures that are in place for other endemic disease, according to the spokesman.

SBV is not expected to spread any further during the winter months as the midge population decline in Winter months.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said it is unlikely SBV would cause disease in humans.