Britain's lambs being wiped out by killer virus from Europe
Urgent tests are under way to see if a killer virus which is threatening to wipe out lambs in Britain's meadows this spring poses a threat to humans.
Experts think the Schmallenburg Virus has spread into Britain from Europe by infected midges which swarmed across the North Sea last summer and autumn.
At present, a Europe-wide assessment has concluded that it is unlikely to cause illness in people.
The winter weather has stopped any more midges making the sea crossing, but it is feared that once spring arrives and it gets warmer, the disease will increase its grip on the UK.
Meanwhile in another alarming development, cattle have also been infected, meaning there could be an even bigger impact on meat prices on supermarket shelves.
In sheep flocks it causes birth defects in lambs including deformation of the head, neck and limbs, as well as blindness, and can also cause pregnant ewes to lose their offspring.
News that British cattle herds are also showing traces of the disease will send shudders through the UK livestock industry.
The disease originated in Germany, where it has been blamed for the deaths of up to a quarter of lambs in almost 150 stricken flocks since it was identified last November.