Transmission of Bovine viral diarrhea virus 1b to susceptible and vaccinated calves by exposure to persistently infected calves


Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) persistently infected (PI) calves represent significant sources of infection to susceptible cattle. The objectives of this study were to determine if PI calves transmitted infection to vaccinated and unvaccinated calves, to determine if BVDV vaccine strains could be differentiated from the PI field strains by subtyping molecular techniques, and if there were different rates of recovery from peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) versus serums for acutely infected calves. Calves PI with BVDV1b were placed in pens with nonvaccinated and vaccinated calves for 35 d. Peripheral blood leukocytes, serums, and nasal swabs were collected for viral isolation and serology. In addition, transmission of Bovine herpes virus 1 (BHV-1), Parainfluenza-3 virus (PI-3V), and Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) was monitored during the 35 d observation period.

Bovine viral diarrhea virus subtype 1b was transmitted to both vaccinated and nonvaccinated calves, including BVDV1b seronegative and seropositive calves, after exposure to PI calves. There was evidence of transmission by viral isolation from PBL, nasal swabs, or both, and seroconversions to BVDV1b. For the unvaccinated calves, 83.2% seroconverted to BVDV1b. The high level of transmission by PI calves is illustrated by seroconversion rates of nonvaccinated calves in individual pens: 70% to 100% seroconversion to the BVDV1b. Bovine viral diarrhea virus was isolated from 45 out of 202 calves in this study. These included BVDV1b in ranch and order buyer (OB) calves, plus BVDV strains identified as vaccinal strains that were in modified live virus (MLV) vaccines given to half the OB calves 3 d prior to the study. The BVDV1b isolates in exposed calves were detected between collection days 7 and 21 after exposure to PI calves. Bovine viral diarrhea virus was recovered more frequently from PBL than serum in acutely infected calves. Bovine viral diarrhea virus was also isolated from the lungs of 2 of 7 calves that were dying with pulmonary lesions. Two of the calves dying with pneumonic lesions in the study had been BVDV1b viremic prior to death. Bovine viral diarrhea virus 1b was isolated from both calves that received the killed or MLV vaccines. There were cytopathic (CP) strains isolated from MLV vaccinated calves during the same time frame as the BVDV1b isolations. These viruses were typed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and genetic sequencing, and most CP were confirmed as vaccinal origin. A BVDV2 NCP strain was found in only 1 OB calf, on multiple collections, and the calf seroconverted to BVDV2. This virus was not identical to the BVDV2 CP 296 vaccine strain. The use of subtyping is required to differentiate vaccinal strains from the field strains. This study detected 2 different vaccine strains, the BVDV1b in PI calves and infected contact calves, and a heterologous BVDV2 subtype brought in as an acutely infected calf. The MLV vaccination, with BVDV1a and BVDV2 components, administered 3 d prior to exposure to PI calves did not protect 100% against BVDV1b viremias or nasal shedding. There were other agents associated with the bovine respiratory disease signs and lesions in this study including Mannheimia haemolytica, Mycoplasma spp., PI-3V, BRSV, and BHV-1.

Fulton RW, Briggs RE, Ridpath JF, Saliki JT, Confer AW, Payton ME, Duff GC, Step DL, Walker DA. Can J Vet Res. 2005 July; 69(3): 161–169.