Lesions and distribution of viral antigen following an experimental infection of young seronegative calves with virulent bovine virus diarrhea virus-type II


During the past several years, acute infections with bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) have been causally linked to hemorrhagic and acute mucosal disease-like syndromes with high mortality. The majority of BVDVs isolated in such cases have been classified as type II on the basis of genetic and antigenic characteristics. It was our objective to examine clinical disease, lesions and potential sites of viral replication, following experimental BVDV type II infection in young calves. On approximately day 35 after birth, calves that had received BVDV-antibody-negative colostrum were infected by intranasal inoculation of 5 x 105 TCID50 of BVDV type II isolate 24,515 in 5 mL of tissue culture fluid (2.5 mL/nostril). Calves were monitored twice daily for signs of clinical disease. Approximately 48-72 h after infection, all calves developed transient pyrexia (39.4-40.5 degrees C) and leukopenia. Beginning on approximately day 7 after infection, all calves developed watery diarrhea, pyrexia (40.5-41.6 degrees C), marked leukopenia (> or = 75% drop from preinoculation values), variable thrombocytopenia, and moderate to severe depression. Calves were euthanized on days 10, 11, or 12 after infection due to severe disease. Gross and histological lesions consisted of multifocal bronchointerstitial pneumonia (involving 10%-25% of affected lungs), bone marrow hypoplasia and necrosis, and minimal erosive lesions in the alimentary tract. Immunohistochemical staining for BVDV revealed widespread viral antigen usually within epithelial cells, smooth muscle cells and mononuclear phagocytes in multiple organs, including lung, Peyer’s patches, gastric mucosa, thymus, adrenal gland, spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow, and skin. This BVDV type II isolate caused rapidly progressive, severe multisystemic disease in seronegative calves that was associated with widespread distribution of viral antigen and few gross or histological inflammatory lesions.

Ellis JA, West KH, Cortese VS, Myers SL, Carman S, Martin KM, and Haines DM. Can J Vet Res. 1998 July; 62(3): 161–169.