Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) infections are seen in all ages and breeds of cattle throughout the world and have significant economic impact due to productive and reproductive losses. Even though BVDV is one of the most studied infective agents in cattle it is probably one of the least understood. This is because BVDV is a significant infectious agent that is capable of contributing to numerous disease syndromes. Additionally Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus can also affect reproductive respiratory and immune systems. Learning how to control the spread of the virus is a challenge that still faces researchers.
BVDV has the ability to replicate into many different variations. Much like with humans if the person inflicted with the virus is fatigued or stressed the virus can cause other types of problems. With BVDV stressful environments or situations are capable of changing the virus disease-causing capabilities.
The family of BVDV has been grouped into two categories: Type 1 and Type 2. The basic difference between the Type 1 and Type 2 types of BVDV is the severity of the case with Type 2 being generalized as the more severe of the two types.
BVDV manifests in several different ways in the bodies of cattle which can complicate the disease and make diagnosis difficult. The Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus can infect an animal and remain in the animal as long as the animal lives. It does not necessarily cause the animal to product antibodies to fight the infection and therefore it is easy to be passed to a fetus during pregnancy. As part of a vicious cycle the infected fetus is born remains infected with BVDV and as an adult transmits the virus to its own fetus. Additionally because of the lack of protective antibodies when infected the virus other cattle in contact with the infected cow can easily transmit the virus. Finally BVDV has the ability to suppress an animal's immune system. This means that the virus lowers the animal's resistance to other diseases.
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Signs and Symptoms of BVDV
What most individuals do not realize is that whether it be an individual cow or an entire herd there may be no evidence of clinical signs to identify the infection. This makes it very difficult to pinpoint. When BVDV was first being diagnosed and reported professionals in the field only addressed the most severe form of the disease. In reality perhaps only 5% of the animals that become infected with the BVDV virus develop clinical signs actually attributed to the virus.
Available Treatment Options
There is no effective treatment that can prevent the onset of BVDV infections unless vaccines are utilized but most Bovine Viral Diarrhea virus infections can be easily contained. If treatment is initiated antibiotics, B vitamins, and fluids may be used in attempts to control secondary infections and provide supportive therapy. Changes in feed rations to enhance the palatability of the feed could tempt the sick animal to eat much-needed nutrients.
Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. It seems so simple yet so many livestock owners do not follow through with this crucial step. Vaccination of susceptible cattle has been the principal approach to the prevention and control of BVDV. To control and prevent BVDV infections it is important to establish an immune population before a disease appears. A few basic principles can provide a framework on which to build a BVDV vaccination program:
- Protection is best received through colostrum. Therefore begin vaccinations before calving begins.
- Initiate individual vaccination of calves after 4-6 months of age and at least 30 days before weaning.
- In calves of unknown origin vaccinate all calves in the herd starting at 1 week of age.
- Properly vaccinate all unvaccinated heifers and cows before breeding to ensure protection for the fetus.
- Properly vaccinate all bulls before putting them out with the cows or heifers.
- Properly vaccinate all new additions before adding them to the herd.
Once again it cannot be overly stressed the importance of good herd management and thorough vaccination procedures. There is a wide array of BVDV vaccinations currently available that include both Type 1 and 2 viruses in the vaccine. Lambert Vet Supply carries a full selection of Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus vaccines.