BVD CONSULT

Investigation of an outbreak of mucosal disease in a beef cattle herd in southwestern Saskatchewan

Abstract

This study describes the epidemiological investigation of an outbreak of mucosal disease that occurred on a ranch in southwestern Saskatchewan. Over a six-month period during the fall and winter of 1991-1992, in a herd of 515 beef cattle and 96 bison, 20 yearling cattle from a group of 105 housed in one feedlot pen died from mucosal disease. A further eight yearlings were slaughtered for salvage because they were at risk of dying from mucosal disease.

Mucosal disease mortalities were the first observed evidence of fetal infections with bovine viral diarrhea virus in this herd. Animals that died from mucosal disease exhibited signs of ill thrift prior to death. Deaths from mucosal disease were confined to the progeny of one herd of beef cows. Following an outbreak of fetal infection with bovine viral diarrhea virus during 1989-1990, at least 28 (22%) of the 128 calves born from this herd of cows in the spring of 1990 were persistently infected with bovine viral diarrhea virus. However, only one calf born from this herd in 1991, and five calves born from all herds in 1992 were persistently infected. Of the five persistently infected calves born in 1992, three were born to persistently infected replacement heifers born in 1990. These heifers calved without assistance in 1992, but only one of their calves survived past three days of age, and it was persistently infected.

In January 1992, 82% of the total herd had reciprocal antibody titers to bovine viral diarrhea virus of > or = 1024 which suggested a high level of herd immunity to bovine viral diarrhea virus.Thus, following the outbreak of fetal infection with bovine viral diarrhea virus in 1989-1990, herd immunity to bovine viral diarrhea virus had developed rapidly in the breeding cows and heifers. Subsequently, in the next two years, there was a dramatic decline in the number of calves born persistently infected with bovine viral diarrhea virus.

Taylor LF, Van Donkersgoed J, Radostits OM, Booker CW, Dubovi EJ, van den Hurk JV, and Janzen ED. Can Vet J. 1994 July; 35(7): 425–432.

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