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ARS Research Targets
Bovine Viral Diarrhea
and Other Pestiviruses


  A new type of pestivirus in wildlife has been identified by Agricultural Research Service scientists. "Pestivirus" is a scientific term for a group of viruses that includes economically important ones such as bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) viruses and hog cholera virus, also known as classical swine fever virus. Pestiviruses can also cause reproductive failure and congenital defects in ruminant animals.


Microbiologist Julia F. Ridpath and others at ARS' National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in Ames, Iowa, characterized the new virus, which was isolated from antelope tissues by Wyoming State University researchers.


"While no disease is yet associated with the new pestivirus, its presence in wildlife is significant because wildlife come in close contact with domestic livestock and can transmit disease," says Ridpath. The identification of this new pestivirus is the result of ongoing research being done at NADC to improve the detection and control of pestiviruses.


Research on pestiviruses dates back to the 1930s, when USDA researchers showed that hog cholera was caused by a virus. They developed a test and a vaccine that led to eradication of hog cholera in the United States in 1978.


Current pestivirus research at NADC focuses on BVD viruses, which circulate in cattle herds, leading to lower milk production, poor feed conversion, and significant reproductive problems. They are the most important enteric viral agents of cattle in the United States. Although many commercial vaccines exist for BVD viruses, they continue to be one of the most costly disease problems facing U.S. cattle producers. Losses could be reduced if a quick, reliable, and technically simple test were available to field veterinarians.


With the goal of producing improved vaccines and diagnostics, ARS and ImmuCell Corporation of Portland, Maine, have entered into a research agreement to develop quicker, field-ready tests for detecting BVD viruses. And ARS and Intervet, Inc., of Millsboro, Delaware, have entered into a research agreement to develop a new, more effective vaccine for BVD viruses.—By Linda McGraw, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.


Julia F. Ridpath is in the USDA-ARS Virus and Prion Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, P.O. Box 70, Ames, IA 50011; phone (515) 663-7372, fax (515) 663-7458.

"ARS Research Targets Bovine Viral Diarrhea and Other Pestiviruses " was published in the October 2001 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.



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