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Prev Vet Med. 2013 Jan 1;108(1):28-37. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2012.07.005. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Serological and virological BVDV prevalence and risk factor analysis for herds to be BVDV seropositive in Belgian cattle herds.

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Veterinary Epidemiology Unit, Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.


Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) is a worldwide spread virus that most commonly infects cattle and can cause considerable economic losses. To determine the prevalence of BVDV in Belgium, a cross-sectional study was performed between November 2009 and March 2010. Young stock aged between 6 and 12 months from 773 randomly selected Belgian cattle herds were tested for BVDV-specific antibodies and antigen. With a target and maximum of 10 animals per sampled herd, a total of 5246 animals were selected. Additionally a questionnaire including different herd management topics and questions about participation in animal health programmes, including BVDV, was sent to 1100 Belgian cattle herds, including the 773 herds for BVDV testing. This paper focuses on results regarding these 773 herds. The true prevalence of BVDV-specific antibodies and antigen at herd level was respectively 47.4% and 4.4%, while at animal level this was respectively 32.9% and 0.3%. In 44.4% of the herds where BVDV-specific antibodies were detected at least 60% of the sampled young stock was BVDV seropositive. Interestingly, 83.4% of these farmers stated not to have suffered from problems related to BVDV. Moreover, only 8.4% of all farmers who completed the questionnaire (n=895) reported problems possibly related to BVDV the past 3 years. This demonstrates that farmers are often unaware of the presence of BVDV in their herd. Risk factors for a herd to be BVDV seropositive were identified by means of a multivariable logistic regression model. Large herds were significantly more likely to be BVDV seropositive (OR=1.004, p<0.01). The interaction between "Antigen positive animal detected in this study" and "BVDV vaccination in 2009" was significant (p<0.01). In non-vaccinating herds, the detection of antigen positive animals was significantly associated with BVDV seropositive herds (OR=13.8, p<0.01). In herds with no antigen positive animals detected, vaccination resulted in a significant risk factor to be BVDV seropositive compared to non-vaccinating herds (OR=3.4, p<0.01). Herds reporting BVDV-related problems the past 3 years were more likely to be BVDV seropositive (OR=1.9, p<0.05). This relation became non-significant (OR=1.8, p=0.08) when only a subset of herds with no vaccination of animals <12 months was taken into account. The results of the current study suggest an active circulation of BVDV in a considerable number of Belgian cattle herds.

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