Hypothetical route of the introduction of Schmallenberg virus into Ireland using two complementary analyses
Ireland lost its official freedom from Schmallenberg virus (SBV) in October 2012. The route of introduction is uncertain, with long-distance displacement of infected Culicoides, biting midges, by suitable wind flows considered to be the most likely source. The authors investigated the potential introduction of SBV into Ireland through a Culicoides incursion event in the summer of 2012. They conducted SBV serology on archived bovine sera to identify the prospective dispersal window, then used atmospheric dispersion modelling during periods around this window to identify environmental conditions the authors considered suitable for atmospheric dispersal of Culicoides from potential infected source locations across Southern England. The authors believe that there was one plausible window over the summer of 2012, on August 10–11, based on suitable meteorological conditions. They conclude that a potential long-range transportation event of Culicoides appears to have occurred successfully only once during the 2012 vector competent season. If these incursion events remain at a low frequency, meteorological modelling has the potential to contribute cost-effectively to the alert and response systems for vectorborne diseases in the future.