Distribution of viral antigen and development of lesions after experimental infection of calves with a BVDV 2 strain of low virulence


Department of Pathology, Veterinary School Hannover, 30559 Hannover, Germany.

To examine the virus-host interaction in subclinical bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) infections, the spread of a BVDV 2 strain of low virulence to different organs and the development of lesions were investigated. Eight colostrum-deprived, clinically healthy, 2-3-month-old calves were intranasally inoculated with 10(6) tissue culture infective dose of the naturally occurring BVDV 2 strain 28508-5 of low virulence, and 2 served as controls. Two calves each were euthanized at days 3, 6, 9, and 13 postinoculation (pi). Representative tissues were processed for histology and immunohistology. Signs of overt clinical disease were absent. However, a mild temperature elevation at days 7 or 8 pi and a moderate decrease of circulating lymphocytes occurred in all inoculated calves. The BVDV antigen was detected at day 3 pi in several lymphoid tissues. At day 6 pi, BVDV antigen was found widespread in lymphoid tissues and multifocally in intestinal epithelial cells but was associated with no or subtle lesions only. At day 9 pi, much less BVDV antigen was detectable, but there was severe depletion of lymphoid tissues. At day 13 pi, BVDV antigen had been cleared from most lymphoid tissues that were at variable phases of depletion and recovery. In conclusion, the BVDV strain of low virulence spread to lymphoid tissues and intestinal epithelial cells but was rapidly eliminated. Transient depletion of lymphoid tissues was followed by recovery.


Liebler-Tenorio EM, Ridpath JF, Neill JD: J Vet Diagn Invest 15: 221-232, 2003.