Belgian scientists have discovered the transmitter of the Schmallenberg virus
The Schmallenberg virus has been raging in numerous European countries for some time. The viral disease is responsible for a large number of stillbirths in cattle, sheep and goats. The calves or lambs of the sick animals are often born with severe deformities, so that they are not able to survive as a result. Belgian researchers have now successfully identified the transmitter. There are several types of mosquitoes, some of which have already been responsible for the transmission of other viral diseases.
Schmallenberg pathogen is preparing throughout Europe Since its discovery, almost 1000 farms in Germany have been affected by the viral infectious disease. The recently unknown Schmallenberg pathogen is responsible for a high number of stillbirths in sheep, goat and cattle herds. The born offspring of the infected mother animals are either born dead or with serious malformations. In addition to the Federal Republic of Germany, farms in countries such as Belgium, France, Great Britain or Holland are also affected by the animal epidemic. So far, no spread to humans has been observed, but the viruses were only discovered in 2011, so that a final evaluation of the Schmallenberg virus has not yet taken place.
Mosquitoes responsible for transmission Scientists at the Belgian Institute for Tropical Medicine (IT) in Antwerp have, according to their own statements, succeeded in locating the exact transmitters. These are special mosquito species that have been responsible for the transmission of infectious animal diseases. "Studies have shown that the mosquito species Gnits Culicoides obsoletus, C. dewulfi and C. Pulicaris transmit the Schmallenberg virus." Three of the five species of stingfly identified had established the transmission route of bluetongue, as the research team reports. For a few months now, veterinarians and researchers have suspected that the Schmallenberg virus, which is only 100 nanometers in size, is transmitted by insect bites.
Adult mothers recover quickly The infected animals' immune system is powerless against the intruders. While the mother animals experience fevers, a drop in milk, loss of appetite and sometimes underweight in phases and thus only show short-term symptoms of illness, their health stabilizes within a relatively short period of time. According to the experts, the worrying sequelae are the abortions and stillbirths. The disease was first discovered in November 2011 near the town of Schmallenberg by experts from the Friedrich Löffler Institute for Animal Health in Cattle. The viruses showed clear parallels to the Akabane infection, which also infects mammals with mosquitoes and causes similar symptoms. The researchers assigned the pathogen to the Orthobunya viruses. A short time before, animals in Dutch cattle herds also showed similar symptoms, although it is still not clear whether the viral disease was already circulating at that time or whether it had just been registered.
Falling infection rate expected Experts from the European Food Safety Agency EFSA believe that the infection rate will decrease in the near future. In the following months, however, the number of malformations caused by the Schmallenberg virus will initially continue to rise. In the opinion of the EU Commission, additional measures were not necessary. The virus infection is treated in the same way as other pathogens in the veterinary sector. (sb)
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