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Call For National Action To Cut Losses Associated With Bovine Viral Diarrhoea In England

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 has said that the UK is being left behind other European
countries that already have national eradication programmes in place for what is
“arguably the most important single viral disease of cattle”.

“Within England, it is very important to start to consider a policy and who
should be responsible for co-ordinating it,” he said. “With a programme in
place, we could start to see major benefits in two or three years.”

“The pilot schemes looking at the cost benefits of eradicating BVD are looking
very encouraging,” he continued. “It is hoped that the figures will be available
in the New Year.”

Professor Brownlie’s comments follow a series of seminars sponsored by Novartis
Animal Health held with concerned vets and cattle farmers.

“As a major cause of reproductive loss, with persistently infected (PI) calves
prone to respiratory and enteric diseases, as well as, fatally, mucosal disease,
BVD causes farmers significant financial problems,” explains James Crawford,
Novartis Animal Health’s Brand Manager for BVD vaccine Bovidec.

In lieu of a nationwide programme, Professor Brownlie is encouraging vets to
work “farm by farm, practice by practice, to offer a different strategy”.

“The strategic use of vaccines in the programme is important,” he says. “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 hosted one of the meetings in his practice, McMurtry &
Harding, in Derbyshire.

“We had a room of about 50 people there, a mix of dairy and beef farmers, small
scale and large, old and young,” he says.

“The evening undoubtedly raised awareness about BVD,” he says. “The farmers that
attended were aware of BVD beforehand but it was something of a nebulous
disease, they couldn’t define its impact”.

Mr Colgan agrees that national action would be the best step forward. He says:
“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.”

Joe Brownlie is Professor of Veterinary Pathology in the Department of Pathology
and Infectious Diseases at the Royal Veterinary College, where he heads up the
research group on BVD. In addition to making key contributions to the
understanding of BVD, Professor Brownlie developed the first worldwide BVD
vaccine with proven protection for the foetus.

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