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Vet Microbiol. 1999 Jan;64(2-3):89-107.

Epidemiological features and economical importance of bovine virus diarrhoea virus (BVDV) infections.

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  • 1Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg, Denmark.

Erratum in

  • Vet Microbiol. 2003 May 29;93(3):275-6.


Infections with bovine virus diarrhoea virus (BVDV) are widespread throughout the world. Although the prevalence of infection varies among surveys, the infection tends to be endemic in many populations, reaching a maximum level of 1-2% of the cattle being persistently infected (PI) and 60-85% of the cattle being antibody positive. Persistently infected cattle are the main source for transmission of the virus. However, acutely infected cattle as well as other ruminants, either acutely or persistently infected, may transmit the virus. Transmission is most efficient by direct contact. However, as infections have been observed in closed, non-pasturing herds, other transmission routes seem likely to have some practical importance. Differences in BVDV prevalence among regions or introduction of virus in herds previously free of BVDV are often associated with particular epidemiological determinants such as cattle population density, animal trade and pasturing practices. However, on a few occasions there have been no obvious explanations for infection of individual herds. Estimates of economic losses due to BVDV infection vary depending on the immune status of the population and the pathogenicity of the infecting virus strains. Introduction of the infection into a totally susceptible population invariably causes extensive losses until a state of equilibrium is reached. Infection with highly virulent BVDV strains causing severe clinical signs and death after acute infection gives rise to substantial economical losses. At an estimated annual incidence of acute infections of 34%, the total annual losses were estimated as US$ 20 million per million calvings when modeling the losses due to a low-virulent BVDV strain. At the same incidence of infection, the losses due to a high-virulent BVDV strain were estimated as US$ 57 million per million calvings. Low-virulent BVDV infections caused maximum losses at an incidence of 45%, whereas high-virulent BVDV infections caused maximum losses at an incidence of 65%. Thus, cost-benefit analyses of control programs are highly dependent on the risks of new infections under different circumstances and on the strains of the virus involved.

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