Distribution of viral antigen and tissue lesions in persistent and acute infection with the homologous strain of noncytopathic bovine viral diarrhea virus


Virus and Prion Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, USDA-ARS, Ames, IA 50010, USA.

Viral distribution and lesions were compared between calves born with persistent infection (PI) and calves acutely infected with the same bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) isolate. Two PI calves from 1 dairy herd were necropsied. The PI viruses from these calves were isolated, characterized by sequencing, and found to be identical. This virus strain, designated BVDV2-RS886, was characterized as a noncytopathic (ncp) type 2 BVDV. To establish acute infections, BVDV2-RS886 was used to inoculate clinically healthy, seronegative calves which were 3 weeks to 3 months old. Nine calves received 10(6)-10(7) tissue culture infective dose of BVDV2-RS886 intranasally. Four additional age-matched animals served as noninfected controls. Infected calves were necropsied at 3, 6, 9, or 13 days postinoculation (dpi). Viral antigen was detected by immunohistochemistry in frozen sections, and lesions were evaluated in hematoxylin eosin-stained paraplast sections. In the PI calves, a wide distribution of viral antigen was found in all tissues and was not associated with lesions. In the acutely infected calves, viral antigen was widespread in lymphoid tissues at 6 dpi but had been mostly eliminated at 9 and 13 dpi. Depletion of lymphoid tissues was seen at 6, 9, and 13 dpi and repopulation at 9 and 13 dpi. In 1 of the calves at 13 dpi, severe arteritis was present in lymph nodes and myocardium. This comparison shows that an ncp BVDV strain that causes no lesions in PI animals is able to induce marked depletion of lymphoid tissues in calves with acute infection. Therefore, the failure to eliminate PI cattle from a herd causes problems not only in pregnant cattle but may also affect other age groups.


Liebler-Tenorio EM, Ridpath JE, Neill JD: J Vet Diagn Invest 16: 388-396, 2004.