Re‐circulation of Schmallenberg virus, Germany, 2019
Schmallenberg virus (SBV), an insect‐transmitted orthobunyavirus that induces severe fetal malformation in calves and lambs, was detected for the first time in late summer 2011 in Central Europe. Thereafter, the virus spread rapidly across the continent causing a large epidemic in the ruminant population. In 2019, detection of virus was again reported more frequently in Germany. From March to November, infections of viremic adult animals were noticed. In September, SBV genome was also detected in newborn lambs. Altogether, affected species included cattle, sheep, a goat and a fallow deer. M‐segment sequences were generated from viruses detected in viremic cattle and compared to viral sequences from previous years. The genome of viruses detected in the blood of acutely‐infected adult cattle and sheep, which represent the circulating SBV strains, seems very stable over the course of nine years and in various European countries. The nucleotide similarities of these viruses are as high as 99.4% to 100%. The renewed SBV circulation in 2019 in the country, in which the virus was first detected in 2011 and where it circulated again in 2014 and 2016, suggests the establishment of an enzootic status in Central Europe with regular larger waves in a cycle of around three years. Therefore, it has to be anticipated that SBV will re‐emerge at similar intervals in the future, and hence, it represents a constant threat for the continent’s ruminant population.