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.