Since November 2011, the so-called Schmallenberg virus (SBV) has been reported in cattle, sheep and goats in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, Italy and now Spain. The Dutch Central Veterinary Institute found anti-SBV antibodies in 70 percent of samples taken from Dutch cattle between 1 November 2011 and 1 February 2012. This indicates widespread infection and an underestimation of total cases of infection with the virus.
The Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp found the virus in two out of 23 samples of midges captured outdoors in September and October 2011, confirming the role of biting midges in the transmission and spread of the Schmallenberg virus. The virus was also discovered in midges in Denmark captured during October 2011. Denmark has not reported Schmallenberg virus in ruminants so far.
Investigations and research projects are ongoing in the affected countries to better understand the epidemiological and the microbiological aspects of this outbreak among ruminants and humans, and to implement relevant preventive measures. According to the EDC risk assessment, transmission of the Schmallenberg virus to humans is considered unlikely but cannot be ruled out.
In week 12, no new measles outbreaks were detected in the EU Member States. However, the outbreaks in Romania and the United Kingdom are still ongoing and spreading. In the Ukraine, one of the host countries of this year’s UEFA Football championship, an ongoing major outbreak is cause for concern, with more than 5 500 cases reported in 2012. ECDC has recently published a rapid risk assessment on this outbreak.
During week 11, decreasing trends in influenza activity were reported by 15 countries, of which eight reported such trends for at least two consecutive weeks. ECDC monitors influenza activity in Europe during the winter seasons and publishes the results on its website in the Weekly Influenza Surveillance Overview.
Portugal health authorities reported on 20 March hat a patient with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB) had travelled from Moldova to Portugal in November 2011 where he was admitted and treated in isolation. Following the existing ECDC guidelines as well as those from the World Health Organization, no further action is recommended in relation to the potential exposure on the plane. ECDC contacted the Portuguese health authorities who have taken appropriate action, including contact tracing.
The CDTR summarises information gathered by ECDC through its epidemic intelligence activities regarding communicable disease threats of concern to the European Union and provides updates on the global situation and changes in the epidemiology of communicable diseases with potential to affect Europe.
Read the full ECDC communicable disease threats report (CDTR), week 12
European monthly measles monitoring, March 2012