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Confirmed cases of Schmallenberg rising
sheep and lamb
"It is important that we ascertain the true levels of the virus, because this will help determine whether there is a need to vaccinate later in the year."
Farmers urged to submit lambs for post-mortem
 
Confirmed cases of Schmallenberg virus are rising, prompting a call for farmers to submit lambs for post-mortem examination.

SBV was found in lambs in the south west of England last month, and subsequently in North Yorkshire and on four holdings in the North East of England.

Schmallenberg can infect pregnant sheep and cattle, causing severe malformations of foetuses in the womb. It does not spread from animal to animal but, like bluetongue, is transmitted by infected midges.

The virus emerged across Western Europe in November 2011 and by July 2013, calves, lambs and kids with severe skeletal deformities had been reported in at least 24 European countries.

Ben Strugnell, of Farm Post Mortem Ltd, commented: The possible re-emergence of Schmallenberg was predicted following a study in autumn 2015 which tested young flock replacement sheep in the south of England, the results of which suggested that levels of immunity may have dropped.”

Mr Strugnell urged producers to submit lambs with skeletal deformities for post-mortem examination so that the cause can be confirmed. “The best advice for producers is to contact their vet, who can provide information on the best way to arrange a post-mortem,” he continued.

“Blood sampling of ewes which have affected lambs is also useful. Younger sheep may be most at risk as older ones may be immune from previous exposure to the virus.”

There is currently no available vaccine for Schmallenberg and Mr Strugnell said it is already too late to vaccinate sheep that are due to lamb in spring.

“However, it is important that we ascertain the true levels of the virus, because this will help determine whether there is a need to vaccinate later in the year,” he concluded.

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Zoo calls for volunteers in its hour of need

News Story 1
 As ZSL London Zoo begins to get back on its feet, the organisation is putting out a call for volunteers who have time to help out. It comes after three months of unprecedented closure, which has seen zoos across the UK come under enormous financial pressure.

Volunteers will be required to commit to a minimum of half a day each fortnight, helping to assist zoo visitors as they make their way around. Volunteer manager Rhiannon Green said: "We need cheery, flexible people who can help visitors enjoy their day while respecting the measures that keep everyone safe.

For more information, visit zsl.org. Posts are available at both London and Whipsnade Zoos. 

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News Shorts
BSAVA webinars to shine the spotlight on selected journal papers

A free series of webinars that take a closer look at selected papers published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice has been produced by the BSAVA.

In the new BSAVA Science webinar series, authors of the featured papers discuss their results with a panel and how they may impact clinical practice. The authors then answer questions submitted by audience members.

The webinars are available via the BSAVA Webinar Library, covering four different papers. JSAP editor Nicola Di Girolamo, said: "Discussing the research with the authors - experts in their field - really helps to bring the papers to life."