Case Description—136 pregnant beef cows were purchased in the fall of 2003. The following spring, 128 cows calved as expected; 8 cows were believed to have aborted with the fetuses unavailable for evaluation. Of the 128 calves born, 8 died within 2 weeks after birth and 9 were born with congenital abnormalities.
Clinical Findings—Cows and their calves were evaluated for bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) infection. Forty-four of 120 calves, but 0 cows, tested positive for BVDV antigen by immunohistochemical staining of ear notch specimens.
Treatment and Outcome—Five BVDV test–positive calves died shortly after weaning, and the remaining 39 BVDV test–positive calves were moved to an isolated feedlot and retested for BVDV at 5 to 6 months of age; 36 had positive results, which indicated that they were persistently infected (PI) with BVDV, whereas 3 had negative results, which indicated that they were transiently infected with BVDV at the time of the first test. All PI calves were infected with the same BVDV type 2a strain. As yearlings, 17 of the 36 PI calves died peracutely with lesions consistent with mucosal disease, 6 died without gross lesions, and 2 were euthanized because of chronic ill thrift. The remaining 11 PI calves appeared healthy and were sold for slaughter. Screening of the following year's calf crop for BVDV by use of immunohistochemical staining of ear-notch specimens yielded negative results for all calves.
Clinical Relevance—Introduction of BVDV into a naïve cow herd resulted in a loss of 44% of the calf crop subsequent to reproductive loss, poor thrift, and mucosal disease.