Evidence of excretion of Schmallenberg virus in bull semen
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is a novel orthobunyavirus, discovered in Germany in late 2011. It mainly infects cattle, sheep and goats and could lead to congenital infection, causing abortion and fetal abnormalities. SBV is transmitted by biting midges from the Culicoides genus and there is no evidence that natural infection occurs directly between ruminants. Here, we could detect SBV RNA in infected bull semen using qRT-PCR (three bulls out of seven tested positive; 29 positive semen batches out of 136). We also found that highly positive semen batches from SBV infected bulls can provoke an acute infection in IFNAR-/- mice, suggesting the potential presence of infectious virus in the semen of SBV infected bulls.