Evaluation of bovine viral diarrhea virus in New World camelids

Philip A. Wentz Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, AL 36849.

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Ellen B. Belknap Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, AL 36849.

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Kenneth V. Brock Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, AL 36849.

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James K. Collins Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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David G. Pugh Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, AL 36849.

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 DVM, MS, DACVN, DACT

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Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of experimental infection with bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) on llamas and their fetuses, evaluate seroprevalence of BVDV in llamas and alpacas, and genetically characterize BVDV isolates from llamas.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—4 pregnant llamas for the experimental infection study and 223 llamas and alpacas for the seroprevalence study.

Procedure—Llamas (seronegative to BVDV) were experimentally infected with a llama isolate of BVDV via nasal aerosolization. After inoculation, blood samples were collected every other day for 2 weeks; blood samples were obtained from crias at birth and monthly thereafter. For the seroprevalence study, blood was collected from a convenience sample of 223 camelids. Isolates of BVDV were characterized by reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction assay.

Results—Viremia and BVDV-specific antibody response were detected in the experimentally infected llamas, but no signs of disease were observed. No virus was detected in the crias or aborted fetus, although antibodies were evident in crias after colostrum consumption. Seroprevalence to BVDV was 0.9% in llamas and alpacas. Sequences of the llama BVDV isolates were comparable to known bovine isolates.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings suggest that llamas may be infected with BVDV but have few or no clinical signs. Inoculation of llamas during gestation did not result in fetal infection or persistent BVDV infection of crias. Seroprevalence to BVDV in llamas and alpacas is apparently low. The most likely source for BVDV infection in camelids may be cattle. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:223–228)

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of experimental infection with bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) on llamas and their fetuses, evaluate seroprevalence of BVDV in llamas and alpacas, and genetically characterize BVDV isolates from llamas.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—4 pregnant llamas for the experimental infection study and 223 llamas and alpacas for the seroprevalence study.

Procedure—Llamas (seronegative to BVDV) were experimentally infected with a llama isolate of BVDV via nasal aerosolization. After inoculation, blood samples were collected every other day for 2 weeks; blood samples were obtained from crias at birth and monthly thereafter. For the seroprevalence study, blood was collected from a convenience sample of 223 camelids. Isolates of BVDV were characterized by reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction assay.

Results—Viremia and BVDV-specific antibody response were detected in the experimentally infected llamas, but no signs of disease were observed. No virus was detected in the crias or aborted fetus, although antibodies were evident in crias after colostrum consumption. Seroprevalence to BVDV was 0.9% in llamas and alpacas. Sequences of the llama BVDV isolates were comparable to known bovine isolates.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings suggest that llamas may be infected with BVDV but have few or no clinical signs. Inoculation of llamas during gestation did not result in fetal infection or persistent BVDV infection of crias. Seroprevalence to BVDV in llamas and alpacas is apparently low. The most likely source for BVDV infection in camelids may be cattle. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:223–228)

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