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Bovine ephemeral fever in Australia and the world.

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CSIRO Livestock Industries, Australian Animal Health Laboratory, 5 Portarlington Road, 3220 Geelong, Victoria, Australia.


Bovine ephemeral fever (BEF) is a disabling viral disease of cattle and water buffaloes. It can cause significant economic impact through reduced milk production in dairy herds, loss of condition in beef cattle and loss of draught animals at the time of harvest. Available evidence indicates clinical signs of BEF, which include bi-phasic fever, anorexia, muscle stiffness, ocular and nasal discharge, ruminal stasis and recumbency, are due primarily to a vascular inflammatory response. In Australia, between 1936 and 1976, BEF occurred in sweeping epizootics that commenced in the tropical far north and spread over vast cattle grazing areas of the continent. In the late 1970s, following several epizootics in rapid succession, the disease became enzootic in most of northern and eastern Australia. In Africa, the Middle East and Asia, BEF occurs as also epizootics which originate in enzootic tropical areas and sweep north or south to sub-tropical and temperate zones. The causative virus is transmitted by haematophagous insects that appear to be borne on the wind, allowing rapid spread of the disease. Bovine ephemeral fever virus (BEFV) has been classified as the type species of the genus Ephemerovirus in the Rhabdoviridae. It has a complex genome organization which includes two glycoprotein genes that appear to have arisen by gene duplication. The virion surface glycoprotein (G protein) contains four major antigenic sites that are targets for neutralizing antibody. An analysis of a large number of BEFV isolates collected in Australia between 1956 and 1992 has indicated remarkable stability in most neutralization sites. However, epitope shifts have occurred in the major conformational site G3 and these have been traced to specific mutations in the amino acid sequence. BEFV isolates from mainland China and Taiwan are closely related to Australian isolates, but some variations have been detected. Natural BEFV infection induces a strong neutralizing antibody response and infection usually induces durable immunity. Several forms of live-attenuated, inactivated and recombinant vaccines have been reported but with variable efficacy and durability of protection. The BEFV G protein is a highly effective vaccine antigen, either as a purified subunit or expressed from recombinant viral vectors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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