Import Alert: Schmallenberg Virus Restrictions
February 24, 2012

Effective immediately, and until further notice, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Veterinary Service (VS) is placing additional restrictions on shipments of ruminant germplasm originating from the European Union (EU) and countries that are not formally part of the EU but which follow EU legislation. These restrictions are being placed to temporarily address the emergence of Schmallenberg virus in seven EU countries and believed to be distributed throughout other parts of Europe. 
Schmallenberg virus is thought to be primarily vector-borne. The virus is not known to be present in the United States. Infection with the virus causes transient disease in adult cattle, sheep and goats resulting in production losses; but has also been associated with a high percentage of fetal malformations, abortions, dystocias and death of infected pregnant animals. The virus is not known to be zoonotic. 
Live ruminants are currently ineligible for importation from EU countries due to restrictions for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. These restrictions will continue. Previously, APHIS had suspended importations of sheep and goat semen from EU countries, pending acceptance by the European Commission of an EU-wide export protocol and health certificate that have been provided by APHIS. These restrictions will also continue. 
Additional restrictions for bovine germplasm are now being taken by APHIS to protect U.S. ruminant health until the risks associated with the transmission of Schmallenberg virus through these commodities have been better determined. To be eligible for importation, any consignments of bovine germplasm originating from EU countries that are presented for entry to the United States must include a statement on the official export health certificate indicating that the commodities were collected prior to June 1, 2011. Such consignments must continue to meet all other applicable APHIS import requirements. Shipments of bovine germplasm not meeting these eligibility criteria will be refused entry by VS port personnel. 
APHIS will negotiate new protocols with the EU that will incorporate additional risk mitigations for Schmallenberg virus and which will facilitate exports of germplasm collected in the future. An update will be provided when these protocols are revised. 
Importations of other types of ruminants (cervids, camelids, etc.) and their germplasm are not affected at this time by these additional restrictions for Schmallenberg virus. No restrictions are being placed by APHIS at this time on ruminant products or by-products.