Summary of official USDA statement: So far it appears that the Schmallenberg virus is transmitted by biting insects like midges and mosquitoes. USDA is only restricting shipments of bovine semen or embryos collected in EU countries after June 1, 2011 (are not eligible for importation to the U.S.) until new protocol are in place for importation of more recently collected semen or embryos.
Official USDA GAIN report posted March 1, 2012: Effective immediately, and until further notice, APHIS VS [Veterinary Services] is placing additional restrictions on shipments of ruminant germplasm originating from the European Union, and countries that are not formally part of the EU but which follow EU legislation (see list below). These restrictions are being placed to temporarily address the emergence of Schmallenberg virus in seven EU countries, but which is believed to be distributed throughout other parts of Europe. Schmallenberg virus is thought to be primarily vector-borne [from biting insects like midges and mosquitoes]. The virus is not known to be present in the U.S. Infection with the virus causes transient disease in adult cattle, sheep and goats, resulting in production losses; but has also been associated with a high percentage of fetal malformations, abortions, dystocias and death of infected pregnant animals. The virus is not known to be zoonotic.
Live ruminants are currently ineligible for importation from EU countries due to restrictions for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. These restrictions will continue. Previously, APHIS had suspended importations of sheep and goat semen from EU countries, pending acceptance by the European Commission of an EU-wide export protocol and health certificate that have been provided by APHIS. These restrictions will also continue.
Additional restrictions for bovine germplasm are now being taken by APHIS to protect U.S. ruminant health, until the risks associated with the transmission of Schmallenberg virus through these commodities have been better determined. Shipments of bovine semen or embryos collected in EU countries after June 1, 2011 are not eligible for importation to the U.S. To be eligible for importation, any consignments of bovine germplasm originating from EU countries and that are presented for entry to the U.S. must include a statement on the official export health certificate indicating that the commodities were collected prior to June 1, 2011. Such consignments must continue to meet all other applicable APHIS import requirements. Shipments of bovine germplasm not meeting these eligibility criteria will be refused entry by VS port personnel.
APHIS will negotiate new protocols with the EU that will incorporate additional risk mitigations for Schmallenberg virus, and which will facilitate exports of germplasm collected in the future. An update will be provided when these protocols are revised.
Importations of other types of ruminants (cervids, camelids, etc.) and their germplasm are not affected at this time by these additional restrictions for Schmallenberg virus. No restrictions are being placed by APHIS at this time on ruminant products or by-products.
The countries affected by these restrictions are those currently making up the EU, or which follow EU legislation and allow unrestricted movement of live animals from the EU, and which include the following:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (including its Crown Dependencies).
These restrictions may be revised as additional information becomes available.
Go to Published GAIN Reports to see this March 1, 2012 release and any future USDA reports issued for the Schmallenberg virus.
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