Response to an emerging vector-borne disease: Surveillance and preparedness for Schmallenberg virus.

H.C. Roberts, A.R.W. Elbers, F.J. Conraths, M. Holsteg, D. Hoereth-Boentgen, J. Gethmann, G. van Schaik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Surveillance for new emerging animal diseases from a European perspective is complicated by the non-harmonised approach across Member States for data capture, recording livestock populations and case definitions. In the summer of 2011, a new vector-borne Orthobunyavirus emerged in Northern Europe and for the first time, a coordinated approach to horizon scanning, risk communication, data and diagnostic test sharing allowed EU Member States to develop early predictions of the disease, its impact and risk management options. There are many different systems in place across the EU for syndromic and scanning surveillance and the differences in these systems have presented epidemiologists and risk assessors with concerns about their combined use in early identification of an emerging disease. The emergence of a new disease always will raise challenging issues around lack of capability and lack of knowledge; however, Schmallenberg virus (SBV) gave veterinary authorities an additional complex problem: the infection caused few clinical signs in adult animals, with no indication of the possible source and little evidence about its spread or means of transmission. This paper documents the different systems in place in some of the countries (Germany and the Netherlands) which detected disease initially and predicted its spread (to the UK) and how information sharing helped to inform early warning and risk assessment for Member States. Microarray technology was used to identify SBV as a new pathogen and data from the automated cattle milking systems coupled with farmer-derived data on reporting non-specific clinical signs gave the first indications of a widespread issue while the UK used meteorological modelling to map disease incursion. The coordinating role of both EFSA and the European Commission were vital as are the opportunities presented by web-based publishing for disseminating information to industry and the public. The future of detecting emerging disease looks more positive in the light of this combined approach in the EU.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-349
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • serotype 8
  • bluetongue
  • netherlands
  • cattle
  • europe
  • seroprevalence
  • model
  • spp.


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