First evidence of Schmallenberg virus infection in domestic ruminants in Kosovo and Albania
Schmallenberg virus (SBV), a novel Orthobunyavirus, emerged in European domestic ruminants in 2011 causing abortions and malformations in newborns and none or mild clinical symptoms in adult animals. Here, a total of 364 bovine, ovine and caprine serum samples were collected in Kosovo and Albania between May 2014 and August 2016 and analyzed for the presence of anti‑SBV antibodies. Sera were tested using an enzyme‑linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and 48 ELISA‑positive samples were subsequently analyzed by serum neutralization test (SNT). The overall percentage of ELISA positive results was 17.9%; 23.1% (53/229) was the prevalence observed in Kosovo (cattle 45.5%, sheep 19.2% and goat 6.8%), while 8.9% (12/135) was that observed in Albania (cattle 11.1%, sheep 0% and goat 20.0%). SNT confirmed the presence of neutralizing antibodies against SBV in all samples tested. This is the first study reporting SBV circulation in domestic ruminants in Kosovo and Albania, with indication that this virus has been present in Kosovo and Albania at least since 2014 without being detected.