• Post-epidemic Schmallenberg virus circulation: parallel bovine serological and Culicoides virological surveillance studies in Ireland

      Collins, Áine B; Barrett, Damien; Doherty, Michael L.; Larska, M.; Mee, John F; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR), Poland; PBS2/A8/24/2013 (Biomed Central, 2016-10-18)
      Background Schmallenberg virus (SBV) emerged in northern-Europe in 2011 resulting in an epidemic of ruminant abortions and congenital malformations throughout the continent. In the years following the epidemic there have been reports of SBV overwintering and continued circulation in several European countries. When the population-level of immunity declines in exposed regions, re-introduction of SBV could result in further outbreaks of Schmallenberg disease. The aims of this study were to determine the SBV seroprevalence in previously exposed Irish dairy herds in 2014 and to investigate if SBV continued to circulate in these herds in the three years (2013–2015) following the Irish Schmallenberg epidemic. Whole-herd SBV serosurveillance was conducted in 26 herds before (spring) and following the 2014 vector-season (winter), and following the 2015 vector-season (winter). In spring 2014, 5,531 blood samples were collected from 4,070 cows and 1,461 heifers. In winter 2014, 2,483 blood samples were collected from 1,550 youngstock (8–10 months old) and a subsample (n = 933; 288 cows, 645 heifers) of the seronegative animals identified in the spring. Youngstock were resampled in winter 2015. Culicoides spp. were collected in 10 herds during the 2014 vector-season and analysed for SBV; a total of 138 pools (3,048 Culicoides) from 6 SBV vector species were tested for SBV RNA using real-time PCR. Results In spring 2014, animal-level seroprevalence was 62.5 % (cows = 84.7 %; heifers = 0.6 %). Within-herd seroprevalence ranged widely from 8.5 %–84.1 % in the 26 herds. In winter 2014, 22 animals (0.9 %; 10 cows, 5 heifers, 7 youngstock) originating in 17 herds (range 1–4 animals/herd) tested seropositive. In winter 2015 all youngstock, including the 7 seropositive animals in winter 2014, tested seronegative suggesting their initial positive result was due to persistence of maternal antibodies. All of the Culicoides pools examined tested negative for SBV-RNA. Conclusions SBV appears to have recirculated at a very low level in these herds during 2013 and 2014, while there was no evidence of SBV infection in naïve youngstock during 2015. A large population of naïve animals was identified and may be at risk of infection in future years should SBV re-emerge and recirculate as it has done in continental Europe.