Epidemiology and Infection

Zoonoses and animal infections

‘Schmallenberg virus’ – a novel orthobunyavirus emerging in Europe

M. BEERa1 c1, F. J. CONRATHSa2 and W. H. M. VAN DER POELa3

a1 Institute of Diagnostic Virology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany

a2 Institute of Epidemiology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Wusterhausen, Germany

a3 Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen University and Research Centre, Lelystad, The Netherlands


In 2011, a novel orthobunyavirus of the Simbu serogroup, the Schmallenberg virus (SBV), was discovered using a metagenomic approach. SBV caused a large epidemic in Europe in ruminants. As with related viruses such as Akabane virus, it appears to be transmitted by biting midges. Transplacental infection often results in the birth of malformed calves, lambs and goat kids. In more than 5000 farms in Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland acute infections of adult ruminants or malformed SBV-positive offspring were detected, and high seroprevalences were seen in adult ruminants in the core regions in The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. The discovery of SBV, the spread of the epidemic, the role of vectors, the impact on livestock, public health issues, SBV diagnosis and measures taken are described in this review. Lessons to be learned from the Schmallenberg virus epidemic and the consequences for future outbreaks are discussed.

(Received July 01 2012)

(Revised August 31 2012)

(Accepted September 07 2012)

(Online publication October 10 2012)

Key word

  • Schmallenberg virus


c1 Author for correspondence: Dr M. Beer, Institute of Diagnostic Virology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Suedufer 10, 17493 Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany. (Email: martin.beer@fli.bund.de)


  All authors contributed equally to this work.