BVD virus is major economic threat

A CALL for urgent action to tackle bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in Ireland has been made by disease expert, Professor Joe Brownlie, who warns that ignoring it risks major economic damage to the beef and dairy industries.

BVD is widespread in the national herd and causing concern among vets, especially as it is difficult to spot and many farmers are unaware their herds are affected. Apart from causing acute diarrhoea in newly affected herds, the highly infectious, viral disease can lead to infertility problems, embryonic deaths, abortions, congenitally damaged calves and persistently infected (PI) calves that are likely to die of mucosal disease within two years.

Several countries, including Denmark, Sweden and Finland, have virtually eliminated BVD.

Brownlie, professor of veterinary pathology at the Royal Veterinary College in England, said BVD could become a trade issue, leading to a ban on Irish cattle exports, if no action is taken here. He said farmers don’t realise how badly BVD affects production, until animals start dying. “It is possible to control BVD at farm level and the disease could be eradicated via a strategic, national vaccination programme, if the industry as a whole co- operates. There are excellent diagnostic tests and laboratories.”

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