Following the granting of a license to MSD Animal Health to market the new Schmallenberg vaccine in Ireland, five information meetings are being held for farmers on the disease.

The first meeting will take place this evening (Tuesday 18 June) in the Amber Springs Hotel, Gorey.  Further meetings are taking place in the Woodlands Hotel, Adare on Wednesday 19 June, Corrin Mart, Fermoy on Thursday 20 June, Mullingar Park Hotel on Tuesday 25 June and McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris on Wednesday 26 June.  All meetings start at 7.30pm.

The meetings will be addressed by veterinary practitioners, representatives from the Department of Agriculture’s regional veterinary laboratories and MSD veterinary specialists and will focus on the incidence, clinical signs and prevention of the disease.

Supplies of the new vaccine, Bovilis SBV, will be available before the end of June.  It is the first commercially available vaccine against the disease which has spread rapidly across Europe since it was first identified in Schmallenberg in Germany in late 2011. The recommended dosage is one 2ml injection subcutaneously in sheep and two 2ml injections four weeks apart in cows.

The Schmallenberg virus, which is spread by midges, can cause abortions and deformities in calves and lambs.   The critical risk period for cows is between days 40 and 140 of pregnancy and for sheep between days 20 and 80 of pregnancy. Midges are active between April and November.

In the UK, the first case was identified in the south east of England in early 2012 and by the end of March last it was identified in around 1,800 farms across all counties of England and Wales.  It has caused losses of up to 50% of lambs in the worst affected farms.

The disease was first identified in Ireland in October 2012 and has so far been largely confined to farms in the south and east. Based on the experience in the UK and other EU countries, it is likely that Schmallenberg will spread nationwide.

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