Results of the first year of the mandatory BVDV control program in Northern-Belgium

Stefaan Ribbens 1,*Jozefien Callens 1Willem Van Praet 1Eva van Mael 1Leen Van Schoubroeck 1

1Animal Health Care Flanders, 9031 Drongen, Belgium




During decades, the control of bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) in Belgium was on a voluntary basis. Initiatives of eradication at the herd level were successful if well-performed, but the absence of a systematic form of control of BVDV resulted in a high risk of (re)-entry of the virus in all cattle herds in Belgium. Starting from the first of January 2015, a national BVD-program was initiated for Belgium. The main goal of the program ‘STOP BVD’, is to eradicate the virus. This abstract discusses the layout of the Belgium BVDV control program and gives the results of the first year of the program.


Materials and Methods:

The pillar of the eradication program is to detect persistenly (PI) infected animals in an early phase after birth. Similar to other European countries (e.g. Germany and Ireland), all newborn animals have to be tested for BVD-antigen, this within 7 days after birth. This systematic ‘newborn testing’ preferably happens through an earnotch sample taken by the farmer.The results presented in this abstract are based on the national BVD-database which was installed and coupled with the I&R-database. Different states in included in the program are: PI-free, PI-free by descendance, PI, and PI-suspect and BVD-state unknown. PI and PI-suspect animals are prohibited from trade, and PI-animals are encouraged to be culled. Animal BVD-states are listed on the animals ID and available for all farmers. In case of the detection of a PI, veterinarian herd visits to sample suspect animals and are encouraged to trace other PI animals at the farm, coupled with other measures to control BVD.



The results presented in this abstract only include the first 11 months of the program. During this period, 440.447 newborn animals were tested for BVD-antigen using earnotch samples. 2.690 samples were empty (i.e. earnotch sampling unsuccesfull) in which a new sample was taken by the herd veterinarian. 2.556 newborn calves tested positive and were classified as PI animals on 1.179 cattle herds in Northern-Belgium. Although in this stage of the program, culling of PI-animals remains voluntary, on average 90% of PI animals of newborn calves were euthanized. Through testing of the dams of this PI-animals, again 187 PI-dams were detected through sampling of the herd-veterinarian (i.e. about 10% of mothers of a PI-calf are itself a PI-animal). During the first year, another 359 PI animals were detected between 3 months and 2 years of age and another 381 detected PI animals were older than 2 years. The systematic testing of newborn animals coupled by the certification by descendance resulted that 957.045 cattle in Northern Belgium are certified as PI-free.



The results of the first year of the ‘STOP BVD’ program illustrates Belgium was in need for a systematic approach of BVDV-control. Approximately 6 out of 1.000 newborn calves were PI animals. PI-animals were detected 1.383 cattle herd or about 9.2% of cattle herds in Northern-Belgium. Through systematic testing of newborn animals, about 78% of cattle were certified PI-free for live.


Source: Proceedings of the 29th World Buiatrics Congress, Dublin, Ireland, 3-8 July 2016 - Oral Communication and Poster Abstracts