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Call for urgent action to beat BVD in Ireland


A call for urgent action to tackle Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) in Ireland has
been made by disease expert Professor Joe Brownlie, who warns that ignoring it
risks major economic damage to the country’s beef and dairy industries.

BVD is already widespread within the national herd and causing concern among
vets, especially as it is difficult to spot and many producers are unaware that
their herds are affected.

Apart from causing acute diarrhoea in newly affected herds, the highly
infectious viral disease can lead to infertility problems, embryonic deaths,
abortions, congenitally damaged calves and persistently infected (PI) calves
that are likely to die of mucosal disease within two years.

Prof Brownlie, professor of veterinary pathology at the Royal Veterinary College
in England and a leading international expert on BVD, warns that as several
other countries, including Denmark, Sweden and Finland, have already virtually
eliminated BVD from their national herds, the presence of the virus in animals
could become a trade issue and lead to a ban on Irish cattle exports if no
action is taken here to deal with it.

“The disease can be insidious and protracted, so producers get used to the
problem to the point where they don’t realise how badly it is affecting
production until animals start dying,” explains Prof Brownlie.

“Farmers and vets cannot afford to ignore this disease and they need to work
together with other sections of the industry to tackle this “silent disease”,
which affects both the beef and dairy sectors.

“It is possible to control BVD at farm level and the disease could be eradicated
via a strategic national vaccination programme – if the industry as a whole co-
operates. There are excellent diagnostic tests and laboratories to provide them,
so there is no excuse for vets failing to make the correct diagnosis.

Mike Magan, chairman of the new Animal Health Ireland (AHI), which brings
together producers, processors, researchers, vets and the government to improve
animal health, points out there are two main issues concerning BVD in Ireland.

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