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Schmallenberg Virus Surveillance

During 2022, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will again offer free of charge testing of samples from lambs, kids and calves born with arthrogryposis, or other musculoskeletal deformities.

A fresh brain sample (brain stem is preferred) will be tested free of charge, if submitted to APHA. Please contact your local Veterinary Investigation Centre (VIC) for more information and to discuss appropriate sampling, or the submission of a fetus with placenta. The submission of a fetus and placenta may be preferable in order to investigate other causes of abortion, in addition to Schmallenberg Virus (SBV).

The detection of the virus in brain tissue is dependent on the stage of gestation that the fetus became infected, and therefore a Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test may be negative despite SBV involvement. Therefore, in addition, serum samples can also be submitted from up to 6 cows/heifers, or 6 ewes, including the dams of aborted calves/lambs, to test for antibodies to SBV.

Further information on sampling for investigation of cattle and sheep abortions is available in the diagnostic handbook, also on the APHA Vet Gateway:

Information on investigating small ruminant abortions can also be found in this focus article in the Veterinary Record:

  • Investigating abortions in small ruminants (2020) Veterinary Record 186, 116-117

Issued: 24 January 2022