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January 2008

First-in-the-Nation BVDV Eradication Program Launched in U.P. 2008

Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is a serious illness that can cause severe economic and production loses in dairy herds. Despite these threats, until recently, there has never been a regional BVDV eradication effort in the U.S. Today, a partnership between MSU, Pfizer, and dairy and beef producers aims to eliminate BVDV from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Participation in the UP BVDV eradication program is voluntary and has the potential to eliminate threats to cattle health and production and add value to cattle in the marketplace.

Ben Bartlett
MSU Extension
Upper Peninsula

Dan Grooms
Dept. of Large Animal Clinical Sciences

Steve Bolin
Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health

Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) causes severe economic and production losses in both beef and dairy cattle operations. BVDV causes a number of disease syndromes: abortions and other reproductive problems, respiratory disease, weak calf syndrome or poor calf survival, diarrhea and immunosuppression. Because of these adverse effects of BVDV, many US organizations including the National Cattleman Beef Association and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners have highlighted the importance of BVDV and the need for comprehensive control programs. In addition, many European countries are implementing BVDV eradication programs. More specifically, dairy and beef cattle operations in the U.S., including many in Michigan, have BVDV control programs, but there has not been a national, state or even regional BVDV eradication program attempted in the USA.

Starting in 2008, a cooperative project will begin to eradicate BVDV from beef and dairy cattle herds in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This eradication project is being lead by MSU with personnel from the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and MSU Extension. Pfizer Animal Health also is involved in the project by contributing technical expertise and significant financial support. However, the most important partner in this first-in-the-nation effort will be the dairy and beef producers of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who will ultimately determine the success of this project. While the main goal is to eradicate BVDV from UP cattle herds, the MSU team also will focus on how eradication efforts can be accomplished with active involvement of producers, be cost effective, and be a true disease eradication effort and not just disease control.

Eradicating BVDV will be built around three principles:

  1. Identifying and removal of BVDV carrier animals, commonly known as “persistently infected” or “PI’s”.
  2. Implementing a herd appropriate vaccination program.
  3. Implementing a biosecurity program to prevent re-introduction of the virus.

There are many accurate BVDV testing options but the skin test for the virus (ear notch test) and a blood test for antibodies (exposure to the virus) will be most commonly used.

The goal of the Michigan Upper Peninsula BVDV Eradication Project is to help every UP cattle producer implement these three steps in their cattle operations. The eradication project will take several years. The plan is to focus on regions within the UP so that funds and personnel can be used efficiently in getting all cattle operations in a region involved as soon as possible. Two extremely important factors are: 1) the program is voluntary, producers must chose to participate; and, 2) producers will be very involved in the eradication effort, including the testing, vaccination, and bio-security effort.

The benefits of the eradication program will include the health benefits of having a BVDV-free herd, having neighboring cattle free of BVDV, and adding value to cattle that will be recognized in the market place. Eradication of BVDV from a region is a very significant challenge. However, a unique opportunity exists to combine the expertise from MSU, the support of Pfizer Animal Health, and the forward thinking cattle producers of the Upper Peninsula to take on the challenge of eradicating this significant disease from their cattle population.
For more information on this project, contact MSU veterinarians Ben Bartlett at bartle18@msu.edu or 906-439-5880, Dan Grooms at groomsd@cvm.msu.edu or 517-432-1494 or Steve Bolin at bolins@dcpah.msu.edu.





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