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BVDFree England Making Progress

15 November 2016

UK - Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is highly contagious and one of the biggest disease issues facing the UK cattle industry.

Signs of BVD aren’t always obvious and the costs can be hidden:

  • Reproductive losses – early embryonic death, returns to service, abortions
  • Secondary disease - immune suppression increases the chances of pneumonia and scour in calves, lameness and mastitis in adults
  • Poor production - lower milk yield, poor growth rates, increased cull rates
  • Deaths – commonly through secondary infection

BVD Free EnglandIf cows and heifers become infected within the first 120 days of gestation, the unborn calf may become persistently infected (PI). A calf will only become PI if its mother is infected during pregnancy; it cannot become PI after birth. PIs will shed high quantities of BVD virus into their environment for life. They are the most significant source of infection to other cattle.

BVDFree England Progress

By develop a national database, storing individual and herd test results for scheme members, BVDFree England wants to eliminate BVD virus from all cattle herds in the country by 2022 through identification and removal of PI beef and dairy cattle with BVD.

"Progress so far has been very positive," said Fiona MacGillivray, BVDFree communications manager. "Having over 100 supporter organisations has meant our messages have been shared with farmers, veterinarians and many others within the industry on a far broader basis than any typical marketing campaign could have achieved."

Several farmer advocates of the Scheme are also helping to push the BVDFree message to their peers. McGillicray said the main priority now is making sure veterinarians are aware and able to advise their clients, especially as many cattle that were outdoors over the summer months are now being housed. Veterinarians will be planning to be on-farm for Tuberculosis testing over the winter, so it's a great time to educate and diagnose BVD as well.

Diagnostics Role in BVDFree

“Diagnostics are essential for eradication programmes like BVDFree,” said Christina Boss, Product Manager Dairy Cattle Diagnostics at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Diagnostics in conjunction with a thoroughly planned eradication programme allows identification of infected animals - including BVD PI animals - and their elimination from the herd.”

Additionally, diagnostics provide knowledge about the extent of the problem and allow monitoring programme success. Because BVD signs aren’t always obvious, producers would have no idea what is happening in the herd without the use of diagnostics.

“After BVD is identified, diagnostic results will lead to the implementation of measures in a sensible health management program to reach the goal of the program,” noted Boss. “Diagnostics are continuously used to monitor the disease situation in the herd to determine if measures taken have had the desired effect.”

More Information

Go to BVDFree.org.uk– farmers can register online, get more information about the disease and ultimately access an individual animals BVD status and herd status. 

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor



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