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Caution urged as ‘small number of local clusters’ of BVD identified

Caution urged as ‘small number of local clusters’ of BVD identified

Caution has been urged as the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication programme approaches a particularly critical juncture.

In the past number of weeks, epidemiological investigations have identified the emergence of a small number of local clusters of infection, with infection having spread between herds. This is thought to result from the movement of animals, equipment and people, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) have announced.

In this context, DAFM is asking herd owners to refocus on biosecurity to protect their own herds and support the final push toward BVD freedom. Since the commencement of the BVD eradication programme in 2013, there has been considerable progress with the herd level incidence falling from 11.27% in 2013 to 0.26% at the end of 2022, more than a forty-fold reduction.

High-risk period

The breeding season is the high-risk period for the generation of BVD persistently infected (PI) cattle. As the national prevalence of BVD decreases, so too does the natural immunity to BVD. This, coupled with reduced levels of vaccination across the country, means many herds are at increased susceptibility to infection. The incursion of BVD into such herds with reduced immunity can have devastating impacts and lead to the development of further BVD persistently infected cattle.

DAFM encourages particular attention be paid to a number of aspects ahead of the breeding season:

  • Herds where infection has been identified should engage with the AHI TASAH programme without delay, expedite the removal of all infected cattle and complete the vaccination programme;
  • Herds which were positive in 2022 should complete their 2023 vaccination programme;
  • Herds that have been notified of a BVD positive animal in their neighbourhood - which signals an increased risk to their herd - should seek advice from their veterinary practitioner, to review their biosecurity practices, including vaccination policies, and enhance as necessary.

Animal Health Ireland publish monthly maps showing the distribution of BVD positive births for the year to date. These are available here.