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New local cases of Schmallenberg Virus demand coordinated EU approach

March 15, 2012 12:00 PM
By Bill Newton Dunn MEP
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Following last week's detection of two cases of Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) in Lincolnshire and Leicestershire, Lib Dem MEP for the East Midlands Bill Newton Dunn has called for better coordination among European states to tackle the threat.

The virus, first detected last autumn in Germany and The Netherlands before making its way across the channel earlier this year, has now been identified in the East Midlands too. MEPs in the European Parliament on Thursday asked the European Commission to confirm exactly how it plans to ensure EU coordination to tackle the problem.

Said Newton Dunn after Thursday's debate:

"The recent discovery of SBV cases in Lincolnshire and Leicestershire is indeed a very worrying development. With lambing season about to get fully underway we will all be watching carefully, and hoping that the number of infections in the East Midlands is as low as possible.

"However, this is something that must be tackled in a coordinated way at EU-level. Like climate change or cross-border pandemics affecting humans, no single country can hope to deal with such a problem on its own. The UK couldn't stop the wind blowing the midges to our shores and midge numbers will inevitably increase as warmer weather approaches. So we need to ensure EU member states provide the Commission with full and timely information, and cooperate to develop common approaches to the disease.

"That is what we have asked of the Commission today - to ensure it gathers all EU member states together to monitor this new disease and the changing situation, so that we will be prepared to act effectively whatever direction it might take, and avoid panicked, knee-jerk reactions.

The Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) mainly affects sheep but also cattle and other small ruminants. It leads to illness in adult animals, still births or severe birth defects. New data released on 9 March on the distribution of the virus in the UK showed cases in Lincolnshire and Leicestershire for the first time..

The virus is affecting Germany (largest number of cases) ,Belgium, The Netherlands, France ,Luxembourg and Italy, besides the UK.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control assessed the risk of the virus affecting humans, and concluded: "it is unlikely that this virus can cause disease in humans, but it cannot be completely excluded at this stage".