Welcome to Animal Health, your reference Web for 16 years

We belong to the VISAVET Research Centre from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). We work in research and teaching on animal infectious diseases.

  • Queremos agradeceros todo el apoyo y fidelidad que nos habéis dado durante estos 16 años, estrenando nuevo diseño Web compatible con dispositivos móviles. A partir de septiembre habrá nuevas secciones. Os deseamos un feliz verano!
  • Somos Laboratorio de Referencia de la Organización Mundial de la Sanidad Animal (OIE) en Peste Porcina Africana (PPA) y Peste Equina Africana PEA.
  • Realizamos el diagnóstico de los principales virus que afectan a las abejas, siendo pioneros en el desarrollo y puesta a punto de nuevas técnicas para su estudio.
  • La investigación epidemiologica de la Peste Porcina Clásica y Africana (PPC y PPA) son dos de nuestras prioridades.
  • En SUAT trabajamos en la aplicación de la termografía a la sanidad animal, especialmente ventajosa en animales en libertad y de zoo.

Attention students

     You can find the outlines
     in the link below.


Schmallenberg in human

Enfermedades emergentes onlineExtremely low risk for human infection with the Schmallenberg virus.

So far there have been no reported cases of infection with Schmallenberg virus (SBV) in humans. Since the start of the outbreaks, many researchers had already suggested that the zoonotic potential of this new virus was low. The reasons to support this idea are based on the similarity of the SBV with Simbu serogroup viruses. Up to date, there has been no human infection by any of the three most homologous viruses (Akabane, Aino and Shamonda). However, it is known that at least two members of this serogroup, Oropouche and Iquitos viruses, do affect humans. In addition, the SBV is proving to have epidemiological, clinical and genetic peculiarities, not previously described. Therefore, the German Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has conducted a survey in 60 sheep and cattle owners in the estate of North Rhine-Westphalia, in order to understand the involvement of humans in the epidemiological cycle. Antibodies have not been found in any of these samples. In addition, samples of some farmers who had nonspecific symptoms (such as fever or headaches) were analyzed by RT-PCR (in case it was a recent infection) yielding negative results.

Although further investigations are needed, these results are quite encouraging. Given that these farmers have been highly exposed to the virus for several weeks (since they come from an area with a very high rate of infected animals) these findings suggest that the risk of human infection with the SBV is extremely low.


All the information about Schmallenberg Virus  is available at Emerging diseases online

Víctor Rodríguez Prieto & José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno

African swine fever - Recognizing the disease in field

Not long ago we warned of the current risk posed by African swine fever (ASF) for the European Union (EU) and that the main measure we must take to prevent entry is to be forewarned and informed. To this end we have prepared the following summary which we hope will clarify some practical concepts about ASF, how to recognize it and what actions to take when in the field.

Lina Mur Gil & José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno write this outreach article for pig333.com.

Link: African swine fever - Recognizing the disease in field pig333.com

SBV: Trade restrictions

Enforced trade restrictions to countries affected by the Schmallenberg virus


So far, there have been more than 1,800 outbreaks of Schmallenberg disease (SBD) in eight EU countries. However, it is estimated that the number of outbreaks exceed 2,700 at the end of March. Following this increase, seventeen Third Countries have closed their borders to exports of ruminant products from countries affected by the EU (previous communication about restrictions). The list of these countries include the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Kazakhstan, India and Japan (Figure 1). Most of these countries have imposed restrictions on genetic material from ruminants or are demanding the provision of certificates with live animals to ensure they are free of virus. Undoubtedly, the most conservative country is Russia, which has closed its borders to all genetic material and live pigs and ruminants of any EU country since March 20th. The European Commission has opened negotiations with the neighboring country, as it is believed that these measures are excessive and outside scientific evidence. In fact, there is no reported case of SBD in pigs, so it seems obvious that this sector should not be affected by the closure of borders. The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA) works in cooperation with the EU affected countries to minimize the economic impact that these restrictive measures may cause.

Countries that are imposing trade restrictions on products from the EU countries affected by the Schmallenberg disease

Fig. 1. Countries that are imposing trade restrictions on products from the EU countries affected by the Schmallenberg disease

All the information about Schmallenberg Virus  is available at Emerging diseases online

Víctor Rodríguez Prieto & José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno

First case of the Schmallenberg virus in Spain

Schmallenberg Virus SBV

Spain notifies the first outbreak of Schmallenberg disease.

     The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA) made official on March 13th, 2012 the declaration of the first case of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection in Spain. This first outbreak occurred in Cordoba (Andalusia), in the location of Hinojosa del Duque.

On March 5th, 2012 sheep foetus was born with congenital lesions compatible with SBV infection, presenting arthrogryposis, kyphosis, lordosis and cerebellar hypoplasia. The farm where this malformation was found is extensive and mixed, with a census of 644 sheep and 12 goats. According to the epidemiological survey, similar cases in the surroundings have not been detected so far. However, it is noted that this birth occurred at the beginning of the calving season, so special attention must be paid to detect any compatible case.

Samples were taken from the brain and spleen of the malformed lamb and sent to the Central Veterinary Laboratory (LCV) of Algete in order to perform the appropriate diagnostic techniques. Therefore, on March 12th, 2012 this National Reference Laboratory communicated to the national authorities that the samples had tested positive by RT-PCR.

With respect to the affected region, located in the Valley of the Pedroches, we know that since June 2011 it has received 30 movements of cattle and 12 of sheep from the affected European areas, the virus may have been carried in an animal infected with these consignments.

The rapid confirmation of this disease is mainly due to the application since early February 2012 of the National Programme for Epidemiological Surveillance against Schmallenberg Virus. Thanks to the implementation of this plan, sanitary authorities may keep track of new cases that may arise and establishment of early sanitary measures.

Víctor Rodríguez Prieto & José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno

Section of sanidadnimal.info dedicated to Schmallenberg virus (SBV)

News in the media (Spanish texts)
Diario abc: Detectado el primer caso en España del virus de Schmallenberg.
EFEagro: Primer caso del virus "Schmallenberg" en España.
Albeitar: Sánchez Vizcaíno espera nuevos casos del virus Schmallenberg en España.
El diario de Córdoba: El Gobierno recuerda que la enfermedad no afecta a personas.
El diario de Córdoba: Agricultura detecta un caso del virus Schmallenberg en una explotación de Hinojosa.

Notable increase in the affection of farms with the Schmallenberg virus

Emerging diseases onlineThe OIE reported last March 9, 2012 a new notification, updating the situation in France against the infection by the Schmallenberg virus (SBV). Summing these data, 1,204 farms are affected by the SBV in Europe (Figure 1). As shown in the map, outbreaks have been an enormous expansion in France, reaching regions that are only 350 km from the border with Spain.

Brotes VSB

Fig. 1: Distribution of the infection by the Schmallenberg virus in Europe
Source: self-elaboration from data from the OIE-WAHID database up to March 9, 2012.

Apart from France, Germany and the Netherlands are the other two countries with the highest rates of infection with this virus. In all three, the sheep industry is worse off. In fact, among the three countries there have been 948 outbreaks in sheep (nearly 80% of total). With regard to cattle, these farms are not suffering so many malformations. In addition, the diagnosis of many samples from malformed fetuses (mostly done by RT-PCR) is testing negative. Therefore, the Dutch Central Veterinary Institute (CVI) has conducted a serological survey of 1,123 samples collected from dairy cows between November 2011 and January 2012 in order to ascertain the SBV status of the herd.

The study has resulted in an overall prevalence of 70%, on some farms reaching almost 100%. Firstly, there is a need for sensitive and affordable serological techniques for establishing the actual distribution pattern of this virus in the European Union. In addition, this shows that the virus has been actively circulating during the months of higher activity of the vector. In fact, a Belgian study conducted in pools of insects captured in late 2011 found the VSB in at least two vectors: Culicoides obsoletus and C. dewulfi. This shows that at least two species of midges are involved in the VSB transmission. Although more studies are necessary, important steps seem to be taken to unravel not only the past movement of the virus but also the present activity in order to ultimately know the real impact that this infection may lead. 

All the information about Schmallenberg Virus  is available at Emerging diseases online 

Víctor Rodríguez Prieto & José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno

ProMED mail. Schmallenberg virus - Europe (25): Netherlands, serosurvey. File Number: 20120309.1065831.
ProMED mail. Schmallenberg virus - Europe (26): vector, morphology. File Number: 20120311.1066949

40th Symposium EAAM 2012

40th Symposium EAAM 2012The European Association for Aquatic Mammals (EAAM) held its 40th Symposium and the professor Sánchez-Vizcaíno speaks about "New Advances in the diagnosis of viral diseases in dolphins".

  • Oral communication, Dr. Sánchez-Vizcaíno "New Advances in the diagnosis of viral diseases in dolphins".
  • Oral communication, Consuelo Rubio "Unusual striped dolphin mass mortality episode related to cetacean morbillivirus in the Spanish Mediterranean Sea".
  • Oral communication, Mar Melero "Elevated presence and variability of Herpesvirus in cetaceans stranded during 2010 and 2011 in the Region of Valencia".
  • Póster, Jose Luis Crespo "Use of radiographic parameters for age estimation in stranded cetaceans".

Cristiana Patta, Sardinia, Italy (14/10/1958 17/02/2012)

Cristiana Patta

The Animal Health Scientific Community in particular those that work in African Swine Fever are living sad days due to the irreparable loss of our dear friend and colleague Cristiana Patta.

On February 17th died prematurely in Sassari, Sardinia, our dear Cristiana after a long battle against cancer. All who were fortunate to know and work with her can never forget. It was a great pleasure to work with her. Its elegant and great sympathy leadership made the long and sometimes difficult meetings were productive while very encouraging and positive.

Cristiana was one of the researchers most vital in the fight against African Swine Fever, a disease to which she devoted most of his professional life, first as a specialist in diagnosis and later as head of the control and eradication program in Sardinia. A happy and lively woman, tireless and tenacious, with great qualities for communication and human relations. We lost a great professional and a dear and close friend.

In this sad time we must remember specially and send all our love to her partner Giuseppe, to her mother and all her friends and colleagues of the Istituto Sperimentale della Sardegna Zooprofilattico.

Rest in Peace forever dear and unforgettable friend.