• Schmallenberg virus: a systematic international literature review (2011-2019) from an Irish perspective

      Collins, Áine B; Doherty, Michael L; Barrett, Damien J; Mee, John F; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2019-10-09)
      In Autumn 2011, nonspecific clinical signs of pyrexia, diarrhoea, and drop in milk yield were observed in dairy cattle near the German town of Schmallenberg at the Dutch/German border. Targeted veterinary diagnostic investigations for classical endemic and emerging viruses could not identify a causal agent. Blood samples were collected from animals with clinical signs and subjected to metagenomic analysis; a novel orthobunyavirus was identified and named Schmallenberg virus (SBV). In late 2011/early 2012, an epidemic of abortions and congenital malformations in calves, lambs and goat kids, characterised by arthrogryposis and hydranencephaly were reported in continental Europe. Subsequently, SBV RNA was confirmed in both aborted and congenitally malformed foetuses and also in Culicoides species biting midges. It soon became evident that SBV was an arthropod-borne teratogenic virus affecting domestic ruminants. SBV rapidly achieved a pan-European distribution with most countries confirming SBV infection within a year or two of the initial emergence. The first Irish case of SBV was confirmed in the south of the country in late 2012 in a bovine foetus. Since SBV was first identified in 2011, a considerable body of scientific research has been conducted internationally describing this novel emerging virus. The aim of this systematic review is to provide a comprehensive synopsis of the most up-to-date scientific literature regarding the origin of SBV and the spread of the Schmallenberg epidemic, in addition to describing the species affected, clinical signs, pathogenesis, transmission, risk factors, impact, diagnostics, surveillance methods and control measures. This review also highlights current knowledge gaps in the scientific literature regarding SBV, most notably the requirement for further research to determine if, and to what extent, SBV circulation occurred in Europe and internationally during 2017 and 2018. Moreover, recommendations are also made regarding future arbovirus surveillance in Europe, specifically the establishment of a European-wide sentinel herd surveillance program, which incorporates bovine serology and Culicoides entomology and virology studies, at national and international level to monitor for the emergence and re-emergence of arboviruses such as SBV, bluetongue virus and other novel Culicoides-borne arboviruses.