The Schmallenberg virus outbreak, which began with infected sheep, has spread to cattle, with two deformed calves born on farms in the provinces of Flevoland and Drenthe.
The spread to cattle was not unexpected, according to junior farm minister Henk Bleker. ‘The cows will have been infected at the same time as the sheep,’ he told journalists during a farm visit on Monday. ‘But because they carry their young longer than sheep, the results take longer to manifest themselves.’
The Schmallenberg virus is named after the German location where it was first identified last November. As well as Germany and 76 farms in the Netherlands, cases have been found in Belgium.
Farm ministers have asked the European Commission to finance research into a vaccine but Bleker says he does not want to wait and has promised money for the search for a vaccine and for compensation.
The virus, which causes deformed or dead lambs, goats and calves, is spread by gnats and does not transfer directly to humans.