After spending time in the United Kingdom, University of Wyoming assistant research scientist Rob Cordery-Cotter, DVM, is concerned over the possibility of schmallenberg virus (SBV) spreading to the United States.

Cordery-Cotter witnessed the disease first-hand while working as a visiting research scientist at the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine.

The vector-borne disease of cattle, sheep and other animals, which is spread by biting midges, first emerged in The Netherlands in 2011. Since then, it has spread across much of Europe. “This agent spread throughout Europe before they knew it was even in their midst,” he says. “They didn’t recognize it. But now we know what it is.”

Signs of SBV include blindness, spinal deformities, fused joints, paralyzed limbs, behavioral abnormalities and ataxia, or the loss of muscular coordination.

According to an article in the Casper Star-Tribune, Cordery-Cotter recently spoke with veterinarians at the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service in Fort Collins, Colo., and is scheduled to speak with the Wyoming Livestock Board in July. He also is composing a letter to the American Veterinary Medical Association advising veterinarians to watch for signs of the disease.

“I know what this disease looks like and I am more than happy to help spread the word so that if a veterinarian goes out on a farm and sees a case of a deformed lamb or calf they possess an index of suspicion and think, ‘That could be Schmallenberg,’” he says. “The more eyes we have open to this, the better. We can’t slumber through this and simply hope it doesn’t come here.”

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