The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that a virus that causes death and deformities in unborn cattle and sheep has been detected in Ireland for the first time.

Schmallenberg virus has already been found in ten European countries, and has been widespread in the UK for the past few months.

The virus was found in samples from a bovine foetus submitted for post-mortem examination from a farm in Co Cork.

The virus has not given rise to human health concerns, nor has it any food safety implications.

According to the department, adult sheep and cattle that are not pregnant suffer mild symptoms, but if they contract the virus in the early stages of pregnancy they may abort or give birth to malformed offspring.

IFA President John Bryan said it was very disappointing that the Schmallenberg virus had made its way to the island of Ireland.

"This is a non-notifiable virus, which does not have any trade implications and poses no threat to human health," he said.

"The real concern for farmers is the possible losses on farm due to an increase in foetal mortality."