Schmallenberg Disease -- insect transmitted, Europe

Help Support CattleToday:

Kathie in Thorp

Well-known member
Jun 1, 2011
Reaction score
Pac NW (the Drier Part)
Science/biology/vet question for the day: There's a VERY nice British White bull in Wales; some of us here in the USA have been anxiously waiting for his semen to become available. And apparently, it's now available, but not in North or South America. Just wondered if anyone else has encountered this roadblock, in trying to import semen from European breeders. Below is the email I received from the bull's owner:

Hello Kathie,
We took semen from ***** in response to several enquiries from within the UK and overseas. It is now available but we have a problem in that, after he had been on the AI centre for some time, we were told that blood tests showed that he had been exposed to Schmallenberg disease. As we live in Wales on the western side of the UK this was a surprise. We did not know either that the US regulations mentioned this disease. It is a midge-borne disease that comes across from Europe in the late summer and is spread by the midges biting cattle and sheep. It does not have much effect on most of the animals bitten but does cause deformities in some of the calves born to infected cows. It is not, I am told, transmitted via semen.
The semen we have taken is eligible for export worldwide except to countries that exclude Schmallenberg positives. Not all countries exclude them but, at present, both North and South America do. Having spent the money I would, of course, like to see the regulations changed. I also respect other countries' desire to protect the health of their own livestock. I wonder if it is worth asking questions in your country to see if there is any chance of the regulations being changed in the future. ***** is a very good example of the British White breed with tremendous length, good fleshing and a wonderful temperament. Thank you for your interest and I hope that one day we will be able to sell you some semen. Shipping semen is straightforward and is not, I believe, very expensive.
With regards, Mick

Not trying to find a way to get around the rules or anything like that; just wondering . . . . I'm not sure what. Just wondering.
There has been research showing that the virus is excreted into the semen. They have shown that under experimental conditions the virus could be transmitted venereally.

We have the potential for introduction and spread this way, as we have Culicoides midges here in the US. Therefore the ban. It stinks but in my opinion the ban has merit.
Schmallenberg disease seem to affect a number of bulls in Europe that prevents the export of their semen to the US and other countries. With this problem, some of the European AI organizations are beginning to do more ET in North America for their bulls to avoid the problem.

Naturally it always seems to affect some of the very best top bulls!