Epidemiological update: Schmallenberg virus isolated from ruminants in the European Union, potential implications for human healthArchived

Epidemiological update

Since November 2011, a newly recognised virus, provisionally named ‘Schmallenberg’ virus, has been reported in cattle, sheep and goats in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom  and France. Additionally, one bison has been confirmed positive for Schmallenberg virus in Germany.

The disease causes transient clinical symptoms in adult cattle (fever, diarrhoea, reduced milk yield, etc.) and congenital malformation in newborn animals.

The information available on the Schmallenberg virus genome suggests that this virus is part of the Simbu serogroup of the Bunyaviridae family, genus Orthobunyavirus. Simbu serogroup viruses are primarily transmitted by insect vectors (midges, mosquitoes) with no direct transmission from animal to animal.

Preliminary assessments of the impact of the virus on human health  suggest that it is unlikely that the virus can cause disease in humans. Current available epidemiological information confirms this assessment. To date, people who have been in close contact with infected animals (e.g. animal workers, farmers and veterinarians) have not reported any unusual disease.

Investigations and research projects are ongoing in the affected countries to better understand the epidemiological and the microbiological aspects of this outbreak among ruminants.

Public health authorities in the EU Member States have been alerted about this outbreak in ruminant. The animal and human health authorities, both at national and EU levels, are closely collaborating to ensure rapid detection of any change in the epidemiology in animals and humans, particularly among people who have close contact with infected animals.

ECDC's risk assessment 'New Orthobunyavirus isolated from infected cattle and small livestock  potential implications for human health', 22 December 2011


European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): 


European Commission Directorate General for Health & Consumers:

Animal Health G2 Guidance Document on the Priority Actions to be Undertaken in the EU in the Next Months