Number of deadly Schmallenberg cases to spike
The recent heatwave could drive up infection levels for the deadly Schmallenberg virus throughout Ireland, a leading British disease expert has warned.
The virus, which results in deformed births in cattle and sheep, is spread by midges. Numbers of the insect have increased hugely due to the recent warm weather.
"Higher temperatures increase the number of midges and increase their feeding activity, therefore helping to spread the disease faster and more thoroughly," explained Peter Mertens, head of the Vector-borne Viral Diseases Programme at Pirbright, England.
He said higher midge numbers could lead to "blanket coverage" of the Schmallenberg virus nationally.
Despite scientific experts warning that the Schmallenberg virus will spread throughout the country by the end of the year, sales of a vaccine to protect against it are limited to areas where farmers have already been hit by the condition.
It is estimated that around 100,000 doses of vaccine Bovilis SBV, manufactured by MSD Animal Health, have been sold since it came onto the market in mid-June this year.
Sales of the vaccine and interest in its use appear to be limited to areas where farmers have already experienced the deadly effects of the disease.