Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research
On-line version ISSN 2219-0635
MEIRING, Thelma; PROZESKY, Leon; DU PREEZ, Eben R. and VERWOERD, Dirk J.. The diagnosis and prevalence of persistent infection with bovine viral diarrhoea virus in South African feedlot cattle. Onderstepoort j. vet. res. [online]. 2011, vol.78, n.1, pp. 1-8. ISSN 2219-0635.
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.