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Pestivirus in cattle: experimentally induced persistent infection in calves.

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Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, PO Box 8146 Dep, 0033 Oslo, Norway.


Twenty-two heifers were infected intranasally with non-cytopathic bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) between days 74 and 82 of pregnancy. All animals had developed serum antibodies against BVDV 5 weeks later. No clinical effects were seen in the heifers, and they all delivered a live calf. The newborn calves were generally small, appeared unthrifty as typical 'poor doers', and some developed secondary infections with diarrhoea and signs of respiratory disease. Eighteen of the 22 calves were born without antibodies against BVDV and were persistently infected (PI) with the virus. One was weak at birth and died the following day. Four calves were born with serum antibodies against BVDV and with no detectable virus. Three of these showed signs and/or pathological changes indicating disease in the central nervous system. Otherwise, there were no obvious clinical differences between these calves and the PI calves, nor were there any apparent significant differences in blood parameters between these groups. In general, the calves showed low gamma-globulin values and thrombocytopaenia, but moderately increased fibrinogen values and relatively normal lymphocyte numbers.

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