BVD is the Most Costly Viral Disease in Cattle
by: Heather Smith Thomas
Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is widespread in cattle, with a high number of animals testing positive to this disease. It has been estimated that 80 percent of cattle in this country have been exposed to BVD, and that 70 to 90 percent of infections go undetected, without visible symptoms. It is the most costly viral disease in cattle, inhibiting conception, causing abortion and birth defects, and hindering the immune system — making the animals more susceptible to other diseases. In the U.S. cattle industry BVD is costing producers an estimated $2 billion per year.
The first descriptions of BVD in North America (outbreaks of diarrhea in some herds, and erosive lesions in the digestive tract — sometimes with nasal discharge, drooling, diarrhea and abortion) were reported more than 60 years ago. It got its name from the profuse, watery diarrhea shown by weanling/yearling age cattle, but we later learned that this was only one of many forms of disease caused by this virus. The first attempts to isolate the cause of these various problems were not successful; medical technology was not advanced enough to detect and identify the virus. Eventually researchers found that all these symptoms were caused by one virus.