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Pestivirus causes abortion, ill-thrift in young animals, diarrhoea and respiratory disease. It is also known as bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV).

Transmission is via direct contact with a carrier animal. The virus is common in cattle and many herds are infected.

Conditions when pestivirus is likely to occur

  • close contact between cattle
  • recent introduction of carrier animal(s) into a herd
  • introduction of new cattle into a closed breeding herd
  • introduction of new cattle into a breeding herd in the early stages of pregnancy
  • when the breeding herd has access to other cattle on the property.

Identification and diagnosis

Diagnosis of pestivirus will require veterinary assistance. Clinical signs of pestivirus can vary depending on the strain of virus and time of infection.

Clinical signs that would lead a you to suspect pestivirus include:

  • early-term abortion or embryonic loss
  • temporary infertility
  • increased susceptibility to other diseases
  • weak, stunted or deformed calves
  • diarrhoea
  • respiratory disease
  • ill-thrift and wastage.


An integrated approach to prevent pestivirus should consider the following:

  • developing and implementing a farm biosecurity plan
  • only purchasing animals with an animal health statement
  • only purchasing cattle from other uninfected properties
  • purchasing cattle from properties with no history of trading, agistment or cattle turnover
  • defining the pestivirus status of a herd by serological testing of herds
  • identifying and culling persistently infected animals in conjunction with a veterinarian
  • keeping newly purchased cattle away from the breeding herd, especially if in early pregnancy
  • ensuring replacement females have developed a strong immunity before joining
  • vaccinating to control the disease in cattle, following the directions on the vaccine label.