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Description of the first Schmallenberg disease outbreak in Spain and subsequent virus spreading in domestic ruminants

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Schmallenberg disease (SBD) is an emerging disease transmitted mainly among ruminant species by biting midges of the genus Culicoides. Since the Schmallenberg virus (SBV) was first identified in Germany in late 2011, it rapidly spread to other European countries. The aims of the present study were to describe the first SBD outbreak in Spain and to assess the spread and risk factors associated with SBV infection in domestic ruminants from nearby farms during the following year. In March 2012, one malformed stillborn lamb from a sheep farm located in Cordoba province (Southern Spain) was subjected to necropsy. Pathological compatible lesions and molecular analyses confirmed the first SBV infection in Spain. Afterwards, serum samples from 505 extensively reared domestic ruminants from 29 farms were analysed using both blocking ELISA and virus neutralization test against SBV. The overall seroprevalence was 54.4% (CI95%: 50.0–58.7). Antibodies were detected in 70.6%, 46.0% and 34.8% of cattle, sheep and goats, respectively. A generalized estimating equation model indicated that the main risk factors associated with SBV infection were: species (cattle), age (adult), and absence of animal insecticide treatment. Pathological and molecular results confirmed the presence of SBV in Spain few months after it was firstly identified in Germany. The seroprevalence detected indicates a widespread circulation of SBV in nearby domestic ruminant farms one year after this first outbreak was reported in Spain. Further studies are warranted to determine the spatio-temporal trend of SBV in domestic ruminants in this country.




Jiménez-Ruiz, S., Paniagua, J., Isla, J., Martínez-Padilla, A. B., de los Ángeles Risalde, M., Caballero-Gómez, J., … García-Bocanegra, I. (2019). Description of the first Schmallenberg disease outbreak in Spain and subsequent virus spreading in domestic ruminants. Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, 65, 189–193.

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