The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its second report on the Schmallenberg virus (SBV) on 2 April. The virus that to date has been identified in eight EU member states can affect domestic and wild ruminants, leading in some cases to severe birth defects. Although uncertainties and gaps in data remain, this report (available at http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/supporting/pub/261e.htm) importantly shows that when based on worst case scenario assumptions, the number of infected ruminants is low compared to the total number of these animals in each member state.
The data collected by member states have allowed the Authority to analyse the current geographical distribution and impact of the disease in the European Union. Some caution nevertheless should be exerted when interpreting the data as underreporting or lack of diagnostic confirmation may affect the picture that we have today of the prevalence of the disease. While all member states have submitted detailed information about confirmed cases, only two also reported on suspected cases. Data recommendations stated in this report will be used to refine further data collection.
EFSA intends to publish periodical reports on the status and analysis of the data collected and to assess the overall impact of the SBV infection on animal health, animal production and animal welfare together with a characterisation of the pathogen by 31 May 2012.
The results of EFSA's report were shared at a scientific seminar held in Brussels and organised by the European Commission's Health and Consumers Directorate General (DG SANCO) that aims to present the current state of play on the latest scientific information on SBV and the risk management approach taken by the EU.
There is currently no evidence that the Schmallenberg virus could cause illness in humans. A risk assessment on the the virus's zoonotic potential was issued by the Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance Group (HAIRS) on 24 February at http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317132996975. [Source: EFSA Press Release, 2 April 2012. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/120402.htm]