England needs a national programme to eradicate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) to end the major health and economic problems it is causing, according to the leading expert in the fight against the disease.

England needs a national programme to eradicate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) to end the major health and economic problems it is causing, according to the leading expert in the fight against the disease.

Professor Joe Brownlie (RVC)The Royal Veterinary College’s Professor Joe Brownlie believes the UK is being left behind by other European countries that already have national eradication programmes in place for what he claims to be “arguably the most important single viral disease of cattle”.

Prof Brownlie, whose comments came after a series of seminars (sponsored by Novartis Animal Health) said: “Ireland is considering a national programme co-ordinated by Animal Health Ireland, and it would appear that Scotland will have an initiative to identify and cull persistently infected (PI) animals. Within England, it is very important to start to consider a policy and who should be responsible for co-ordinating it.

James Crawford, Novartis Animal Health’s brand manager for BVD vaccine Bovidec, said: “BVD is currently a major cause of reproductive loss, with PI calves prone to respiratory and enteric diseases, as well as, fatally, mucosal disease. Problems such as pneumonia and scour are also common in affected herds.”

However, Professor Brownlie believes that eradication is possible. “With a programme in place, we could start to see major benefits in two or three years,” he said.

In the meantime, Professor Brownlie is encouraging the profession to work “farm by farm, practice by practice, to offer a different strategy”. 

He said: “The strategic use of vaccines in the programme is important. It is also important that vets and farmers are aware of the complex nature of the disease so that they understand the biosecurity risks.

“They need to be aware of the need and value of identifying persistently infected (PI) animals, to not buy in animals that haven’t been tested, to be particularly cautious of buying in pregnant animals that might be harbouring infected foetuses, and also to be cautious about bulls.”

Vet Michael Colgan, who hosted one of the meetings at his practice in Derbyshire (McMurtry & Harding), agreed that national action would be the best step forward. He said: “We should aspire to follow other European countries in eradicating the disease, but that needs some central impetus.

“In the meantime, vets and farmers should be using vaccination and screening, and talking at length about the biosecurity issues that help keep BVD out.”

 

 

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