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Objective—To evaluate economic effects and health and performance of the general cattle population after exposure to cattle persistently infected (PI) with bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) in a feedlot.

Animals—21,743 high-risk calves from the southeastern United States.

Procedures—PI status was determined by use of an antigen-capture ELISA (ACE) and confirmed by use of a second ACE, reverse transcriptase–PCR assay of sera, immunohistochemical analysis, and virus isolation from sera. Groups with various amounts of exposure to BVDV PI cattle were used. After being placed in the feedlot, identified PI cattle were removed from 1 section, but PI cattle remained in another section of the feedlot. Exposure groups for cattle lots arriving without PI animals were determined by spatial association to cattle lots, with PI animals remaining or removed from the lot.

Results—15,348 cattle maintained their exposure group. Performance outcomes improved slightly among the 5 exposure groups as the risk for exposure to BVDV PI cattle decreased. Health outcomes had an association with exposure risk that depended on the exposure group. Comparing cattle lots with direct exposure with those without direct exposure revealed significant improvements in all performance outcomes and in first relapse percentage and mortality percentage in the health outcomes. Economic analysis revealed that fatalities accounted for losses of $5.26/animal and performance losses were $88.26/animal.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—This study provided evidence that exposure of the general population of feedlot cattle to BVDV PI animals resulted in substantial costs attributable to negative effects on performance and increased fatalities.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To evaluate diagnostic tests used for detection of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) and determine the prevalence of BVDV subtypes 1a, 1b, and 2a in persistently infected (PI) cattle entering a feedlot.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—21,743 calves.

Procedures—Samples were obtained from calves initially testing positive via antigen capture ELISA (ACE) performed on fresh skin (ear notch) specimens, and ACE was repeated. Additionally, immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed on skin specimens fixed in neutral-buffered 10% formalin, and reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) assay and virus isolation were performed on serum samples. Virus was subtyped via sequencing of the 5′ untranslated region of the viral genome.

Results—Initial ACE results were positive for BVDV in 88 calves. After subsequent testing, results of ACE, IHC, RT-PCR assay, and viral isolation were positive in 86 of 88 calves; results of all subsequent tests were negative in 2 calves. Those 2 calves had false-positive test results. On the basis of IHC results, 86 of 21,743 calves were PI with BVDV, resulting in a prevalence of 0.4%. Distribution of BVDV subtypes was BVDV1b (77.9%), BVDV1a (11.6%), and BVDV2a (10.5%).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Rapid tests such as ACE permit identification and segregation of PI cattle pending results of further tests, thus reducing their contact with the rest of the feedlot population. Although vaccines with BVDV1a and 2a components are given to cattle entering feedlots, these vaccines may not provide adequate protection against BVDV1b.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association