Organ distribution of Schmallenberg virus RNA in malformed newborns
A novel orthobunyavirus was first detected in German dairy cows in autumn 2011 and was subsequently found in the brains of malformed lambs, kids and calves in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Great Britain, Luxembourg and Spain. For rapid detection of this novel virus, named Schmallenberg virus, a real time quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) was developed at the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut and provided to the federal veterinary state laboratories in Germany. For diagnostic purposes, the organ distribution of this new virus was analysed in several organs and body fluids of 15 lambs and two calves showing typical malformations. Spleen, cerebrum, meconium, spinal cord, rib cartilage, umbilical cord, placental fluid out of the stomach as well as external placental fluid scraped from the coat of the foetuses were collected during necropsy. All animals were tested RT-qPCR positive in the external placental fluid, and all but one were also RT-qPCR positive in the cerebrum, the umbilical and the spinal cord. Our results suggest that both the external placental fluid and the umbilical cord could be suitable sample materials for the confirmation of an infection with Schmallenberg virus in malformed newborns, at least in lambs. This is of special interest since those samples can be collected very easily on the farm without the need of a necropsy.