Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

EU (DGSANCO) project: Studies related to Schmallenberg Virus - SE0543

Description
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) belongs to the Simbu-serogroup of the Orthobunyavirus group and is a novel virus reported first in the Netherlands and Germany in August 2011. The virus causes a disease affecting adult cattle displaying symptoms such as fever, reduced milk yield and diarrhoea. Since November 2011, abortion and stillbirths associated with foetal abnormalities, affecting sheep, cattle and goats, were recorded first in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium and since January 2012 also in England.

In order to set up effective control measures and stimulate synergistic scientific studies aimed at developing EU veterinary legislation, the European Union (EU) issued a research call with technical and scientific priorities to address the most important knowledge gaps associated with this novel disease. This proposal refers to coordinated scientific work by five research groups in European member states: United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. The work is focused on the agreed technical and scientific priorities, covering the areas of pathogenesis, epidemiology and diagnostics.

The data generated on SBV pathogenesis will provide information regarding the incubation time, susceptibility of fetuses in utero, the duration of viraemia, virus distribution, virus shedding and possible persistence. It will help to define tests to demonstrate freedom from SBV in live animals and animal products, such as semen and embryos. These studies will also support the generation of vaccines, address the question of whether a DIVA concept can be realised in the near future and provide a collection of reference materials for test validation.

This group of viruses is typically primarily spread by biting insect vectors. Here, transmission studies will be undertaken to clarify or exclude horizontal transmission. Further alternative SBV transmission routes could be via semen or embryos and although none of the Simbu serogroup viruses appear to be excreted in this manner, we will investigate this further. Infection experiments with non-ruminant species such as pigs, rabbits, mice or birds (chicken) are planned to determine their significance in the epidemiology of SBV. Similarly, selected wildlife samples (e.g. deer, wild boar) will be tested to obtain an estimate of possible infection and clarify the epidemiological role of wildlife. These transmission and epidemiological studies will provide information critical for virus prevention and control and will support the trade position of affected EU member states and into third countries.

Finally, molecular and serological diagnostic tools will be developed and validated for use in supporting control of the virus and trade. Data on virus characterization and phylogeny will be produced to review the heterogeneity and impact of this on diagnostic tests. Furthermore, information obtained on the genetic stability of SBV will be important for the further use of vaccines.

This group of viruses is typically primarily spread by biting insect vectors. Here, transmission studies will be undertaken to clarify or exclude horizontal transmission. Further alternative SBV transmission routes could be via semen or embryos and although none of the Simbu serogroup viruses appear to be excreted in this manner, we will investigate this further. Infection experiments with non-ruminant species such as pigs, rabbits, mice or birds (chicken) are planned to determine their significance in the epidemiology of SBV. Similarly, selected wildlife samples (e.g. deer, wild boar) will be tested to obtain an estimate of possible infection and clarify the epidemiological role of wildlife. These transmission and epidemiological studies will provide information critical for virus prevention and control and will support the trade position of affected EU member states and into third countries.

Finally, molecular and serological diagnostic tools will be developed and validated for use in supporting control of the virus and trade. Data on virus characterization and phylogeny will be produced to review the heterogeneity and impact of this on diagnostic tests. Furthermore, information obtained on the genetic stability of SBV will be important for the further use of vaccines.
Objective
Objective 4: (EU Project 1.1) Determine the dynamics of the virus towards and in foetuses and the pathogenicity of the virus in foetuses at different gestation stages.

Objective 5: (EU Project 1.2) Determine replication and virus shedding and to assess the virulence of the virus in young animals. Identify the primary (and possibly secondary) replication sites in non-pregnant animals.
Objective 6: (EU Project 1.3) Study the development of immunity to SBV in different species and to analyse the onset and immunity (and protection) after infection.

Objective 7: (EU Project 2.1) Clarify or exclude horizontal transmission

Objective 9: (EU Project 2.3) Provide information regarding the risk of transmission of SBV via semen and embryos.

Objective 10: (EU Project 2.4) Identify other species susceptible to SBV, including non-ruminant species such as pigs or horses which are bitten by midges.

Objective 11: (EU project 2.5) Collect information on whether the virus infects wildlife such as deer and hence could play a role in the epidemiology of the virus.

Objective 13: (EU Project 3.2) Improve and validate molecular and serological diagnostic tools to support control of the virus and trade.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2014

Cost: £417,291
Contractor / Funded Organisations
A H V L A (Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency - AHVLA)
Keywords
Disease Control              
Vector-Borne Viral Diseases              
Fields of Study
Animal Health