Original Research

The diagnosis and prevalence of persistent infection with bovine viral diarrhoea virus in South African feedlot cattle

Thelma Meiring, Leon Prozesky, Eben R. du Preez, Dirk J. Verwoerd
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 78, No 1 | a323 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v78i1.323 | © 2011 Thelma Meiring, Leon Prozesky, Eben R. du Preez, Dirk J. Verwoerd | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 17 February 2011 | Published: 24 August 2011

About the author(s)

Thelma Meiring,, South Africa
Leon Prozesky, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Eben R. du Preez, SD Morris Consulting Services, Johannesburg, South Africa
Dirk J. Verwoerd, Karan Beef Feedlot, Heidelberg, South Africa


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Abstract

Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) infection is an important viral infection affecting the cattle industry today. The prevalence of this infection in South African feedlots is unknown. Ear notch biopsies were collected from chronic poor doers and animals that appeared unthrifty upon entering feedlots, as well as animals entering the hospital pen with respiratory disease for the first time. A total of 1690 samples were collected: 1074 from the former category and 616 from the latter. A routine immunohistochemistry staining protocol showed that 49 animals tested positive, of which 43 (4%) came from the feedlot entry group and six (1%) from the hospitalised group. The prevalence of persistently infected cattle from this selected, nonrandom sample entering six large South African feedlots was found to be 2.9%, which is higher than the international rule of thumb that 0.5% of all cattle entering feedlots are persistently infected. There was no clear correlation between persistent infection and respiratory disease. Serum samples were also collected when possible and 10 positive cases were found. Results from enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for antigen and antibody performed on these sera correlated well with those from the immunohistochemistry staining method in six cases, but in four cases the animals tested falsely positive owing to nonspecific staining. Immunohistochemistry staining on ear notch biopsies is thus a reliable diagnostic method to identify persistently infected animals with BVDV, but the pathologist should be aware of nonspecific positive staining.

Keywords

Bovine viral diarrhoea virus; feedlots; immunohistochemistry; persistent infection; South Africa

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