Skip to main content

Facts & Figures

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)

BVD is the most common viral disease in cattle and causes a significant negative economic impact. The mechanism of disease is complex, with different clinical manifestations for transient and persistent infections (including mucosal disease). Diagnostic tools, using specific antibody and virus detection techniques, are available to assess the BVD status of herds.

The infographics on this site can help with understanding of how this disease spreads. Learn more about the virus, the mechanism of the disease and the means of diagnosis.

BVD Virus1
  • Taxonomy: Plaviviridae pestivirus
  • Genotypes: BVD type 1 and BVD type 2
  • Biotypes: Cytopathogenic (cp) and non-cytopahtogenic (ncp)
  • spikes
  • cover
  • protein
  • genome

BVD Virus

The virus causing the cattle disease BVD is a Pestivirus from the family Flaviviridae that is related to the pathogens causing Classical Swine Fever (CSF) and Border Disease of Sheep. It is a round-shaped, single-stranded RNA virus, 40 to 50 nanometres in diameter. The Bovine Viral Diarrhoea virus occurs in the genotypes BVD type 1 and BVD type 2 (both with various subtypes). There are two biotypes: cytopathogenic (cp) and non-cytopathogenic (npc).

Disease Mechanisms

The mechanisms of BVD are complex as there are persistent and transient infections. Persistently infected animals (PI animals) can be asymptomatic and therefore go unnoticed, so they often spread the disease amongst herds. An infection of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea can be transferred from cows to unborn calves during gestation resulting in malformation, miscarriage or calves serving as unnoticed sources for the BVD virus to spread further.

Mechanism of disease1,2

Prevalence of BVD

While in the European Union, type 1 of BVD is considerably more prevalent, there is an even prevalence of type 1 and type 2 in North America.

BVD farm status: means of diagnosis

There are various established methods to detect this disease in herds:

  • Identification of a recent infection in herds: antibody detection via analysis of bulk milk
  • Identification of an active infection in herds: virus detection via analysis of bulk milk
  • Distinction of transiently infected / PI animals: virus detection via analysis of blood samples (2 samples within 4 weeks)
  • Detection of re-infection or missed PI animals: antibody detection via analysis of pooled young stock blood
BVD farm status: means of diagnosis3
Economic impact of BVD3,5

Economic impact of BVD

BVD affects both reproduction and productivity of herds: This disease can result in reduced milk production, growth retardation, reduced general resistance against diseases, increased mortality among young stock and poor reproductive performance.

  • Peterhans E, Bachofen C, Stalder H, et al. Cytopathic bovine viral diarrhea viruses (BVDV): emerging pestiviruses doomed to extinction. Vet Res. 2010;41(6):44.
  • Lanyon SR, Hill FI, Reichel MP,et al. Bovine viral diarrhoea: Pathogenesis and diagnosis. Vet J. 2014;199(2):201–9.
  • EU Thematic network on control of bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV). BVDV Control QLRT – 2001-01573 Position paper.
  • Lindberg A, Brownlie J, Gunn GJ, et al. The control of bovine viral diarrhoea virus in Europe: today and in the future. Rev Sci Tech. 2006;25(3):961-79.
  • Saatkamp HW, Beek PMJC, Moen AR, et al. Financial-economic analysis of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus control in Dutch dairy herds. Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics, Durban, South Africa, 2009.