Serological evaluation of precolostral serum samples to detect Bovine viral diarrhea virus infections in large commercial dairy herds.


The authors propose that screening newborn calves for Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) antibody prior to colostrum feeding is a useful strategy to detect herds with endemic BVDV infection. In the current study, precolostral serum samples of newborn calves in 2 Minnesota and 2 California dairy farms were examined. Precolostral BVDV antibodies were detected by serum neutralization and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 7.4% (33/446) and 6.2% (32/515) of newborn calves in the California and Minnesota herds, respectively. The serum samples were also tested by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and BVDV was detected in 1.6% (7/446) and 3.5% (18/515) of newborn calves in the California and Minnesota herds, respectively. The primary advantages of precolostral testing are that calves congenitally infected with BVDV and seropositive at birth represent a larger percentage of calves born than BVDV-viremic calves and that fewer animals would need to be tested with an antibody test than a RT-PCR or antigen detection test to detect endemic BVDV infections at the herd level. Testing for BVDV antibody in calves prior to colostrum feeding detects fetal infections in both late-gestating cows and nonlactating heifers. Precolostral serum antibody detection is not confounded by vaccination and may be a more sensitive screening method than bulk milk RT-PCR and nonvaccinated sentinel calf strategies in large dairy herds.

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