Germany makes Schmallenberg notifiable

Germany has joined The Netherlands in applying notifiable status to the Schmallenberg virus.

The move was made by the German parliament’s upper house on Friday 30 March.

It means that animal health inspectors are legally bound to report cases of the disease to the authorities. That differs from the UK’s definition of notifiable, which puts the requirement on farmers to report cases.

A spokesman for Germany’s animal health research centre, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute, told Farmers Weekly that the reason behind the legislation was to build an accurate picture of the disease that represented the daily changes in numbers and spread.

Germany continues to be the hardest hit by the disease with 1,120 cases since it was discovered in the town of Schmallenberg in 2010.

The latest figures for the UK show 238 farms have confirmed cases. Of those 213 are sheep units and 25 are cattle farms. There are no confirmed cases in other species.

DEFRA said it had no plans to introduce notifiable status in the UK but has pledged to keep that position under review.

In a statement to the House of Commons last month farm minister Jim Paice said that giving the virus “notifiable status” was unnecessary because regulation could not control the spread of the disease.

“The deformed lambs and calves are from infection transmitted by midges last autumn,” he said.

“I urge all farmers to report any particular evidence. At the moment, we do not see any need for notifiability, but that matter is under review,” he said.

The private veterinary sector and farmers are providing a tremendous amount of information. Samples all go into our labs for testing, the minister added.

UK requirements for a notifiable disease:

– Impact must be severe, widespread and disruptive

– Risk to human health

– Disease must be controllable by movement restriction

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