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

Transmission is by 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 a carrier animal(s) into a herd of susceptible pregnant females.
  • 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.

Identifying and diagnosing pestivirus

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 producer 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.

Prevention strategies for pestivirus

  • Defining the pestivirus status of a herd by serological testing of herds.
  • Identifying and culling persistently infected animals in conjunction with a veterinarian.
  • Only buying cattle from other uninfected properties.
  • Purchasing cattle from properties with no history of trading, agistment or cattle turnover, compared to cattle trading properties or where agistment is run.
  • 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.

More information