OIE scientists review knowledge on Schmallenberg virus

Paris, 16 February 2012 – Following the emergence of Schmallenberg virus in Western Europe, the OIE convened a meeting of experts to review existing knowledge of the new virus and provide information to its Members and to stakeholders. The conclusions of the meeting have been submitted to the OIE Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases (SCAD) for discussion and endorsement.

The Schmallenberg virus is at the origin of an emerging animal disease that has been found in several Western European countries since the second half of 2011. Identified hosts so far are cattle, sheep, goats and bisons.

Based on current available information, experts concluded that the risk for human health is negligible. The experts also determined that the viraemic period (the time during which the virus circulates in the bloodstream of an infected animal) of Schmallenberg virus is short and that virus transmission most likely occurs by vectors such as mosquitoes or biting midges, with apparent similarity to the transmission of the bluetongue virus.

The experts identified areas of priority for research and collection of scientific data which will assist the development of appropriate prevention and control methods of the disease.
The experts also assessed the risk of the possible spread of the disease through trade. They concluded that the risk of disease spread from trade in meat and milk is negligible. For semen, embryos and live animals the experts made recommendations for safe trade.
Although information is still limited and more evidence will become available in coming months, the experts collated all up-to-date scientific knowledge of Schmallenberg virus in a new OIE Technical Factsheet that includes epidemiology, guidance on diagnosis and preliminary advice on prevention and control methods and the recommendations for safe trade: https://www.oie.int/en/our-scientific-expertise/specific-information-and-recommendations/schmallenberg-virus/

The OIE will continue to collect available epidemiological and scientific information, and regularly update guidance to its Members and the public on this emerging disease.


Schmallenberg virus was first officially characterised in November 2011 in Germany from samples collected in summer/autumn 2011 from diseased dairy cattle. It was also initially detected in dairy cows and in newborn lambs in the Netherlands where the presence of the virus was confirmed in December 2011.
In February 2012, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and France have reported Schmallenberg virus outbreaks to the OIE as an emerging disease.