Severe acute bovine viral diarrhea in Ontario, 1993-1995


Animal Health Laboratory, University of Guelph, ON, Canada.

In 1993, noncytopathic bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) strains with enhanced virulence caused unprecedented outbreaks of severe acute bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) in dairy, beef, and veal herds in Ontario (Canada). Fever, pneumonia, diarrhea, and sudden death occurred in all age groups of cattle. Abortions often occurred in pregnant animals. Gross lesions in the alimentary tract were similar to those associated with mucosal disease, especially in animals >6 months of age. Cattle of all age groups had microscopic lesions in the alimentary tract similar to those seen with mucosal disease. The epidemic peaked in the summer of 1993, with 15% of all bovine accessions from diseased cattle presented to the diagnostic laboratory being associated with BVDV. The virus strains involved in the outbreak were analyzed using monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies and the polymerase chain reaction. The virus isolates from these outbreaks of severe disease were determined to be type 2 BVDV. Type 2 BVDV has been present in Ontario at least since 1981 without causing widespread outbreaks of severe acute BVD, which suggests that type 2 designation in itself does not imply enhanced virulence. Cattle properly vaccinated with type 1 BVDV vaccines appear to be protected from clinical disease.


Carman S, van Dreumel T, Ridpath J, Hazlett M, et al.: J Vet Diagn Invest 10: 27-35, 1998.