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Re-Introduction of Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus in a Disease-Free Region: Impact on the Affected Cattle Herd and Diagnostic Implications

Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) is one of the most important infectious cattle diseases worldwide. The major source of virus transmission is immunotolerant, persistently infected (PI) calves, which makes them the key target of control programs. In the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, a very low prevalence was achieved, with more than 99.8% of the cattle herds being free from PI animals since the year 2013. In 2017, BVD virus was detected in a previously disease-free holding (herd size of ~380 cows, their offspring, and fattening bulls). The purchase of two so-called Trojan cows, i.e., dams pregnant with a PI calf, was identified as the source of infection. The births of the PI animals resulted in transient infections of in-contact dams, accompanied by vertical virus transmission to their fetuses within the critical timeframe for the induction of PI calves. Forty-eight days after the birth of the first PI calf, all animals in close contact with the Trojan cows during their parturition period were blood-sampled and serologically examined by a neutralization test and several commercial ELISAs. The resulting seroprevalence strongly depended on the applied test system. The outbreak could be stopped by the immediate elimination of every newborn PI calf and vaccination, and since 2018, no BVD cases have occurred.

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