Bovine viral diarrhoea is a viral infection of cattle.

First published:
19 November 2018
Last updated:

The disease:

  • makes animals more susceptible to other diseases
  • decreases the amount of milk produced
  • reduces conception rates
  • causes significant economic loss

Suspicion and confirmation

If you suspect bovine viral diarrhoea, contact your private vet.

Clinical signs

Cattle infected with bovine viral diarrhoea virus may show few clinical signs. These include:

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • ocular discharge
  • nasal discharge
  • oral lesions
  • diarrhoea
  • decreasing milk production

Bovine viral diarrhoea virus infection lowers immunity to other diseases such as:

  • salmonellosis
  • respiratory infections

Chronic infection can lead to:

  • abortion
  • weak/premature calves being born
  • infertility
  • fatal mucosal disease

Transmission, prevention and treatment

The infection is usually spread by persistently infected cattle. These animals are born with the disease after becoming infected in the womb. They will have bovine viral diarrhoea all their lives, infecting cattle around them. Yet they have no obvious signs of disease and can go on to live into adulthood.

It is possible to control and eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea through:

  • whole herd blood testing to identify persistently infected cattle
  • culling the identified persistently infected cattle

Effective vaccination is also available and should be discussed with your vet.