Two articles in the veterinary journals this month demonstrate both the possibility and the improbability of moving BVD into the “eradicated” column with other former U.S. cattle diseases like bangs and bovine TB.
The first, from the British journal Veterinary Record, details Norway’s successful eradication program that involved a collaboration between industry, animal-health authorities, the nation’s veterinary school and cattle producers—beef and dairy. It has successfully removed the virus from that country through a four-step process that identified suspect herds by testing dairy bulk tanks, pooled milk from first-calf heifers, and pooled blood samples from young calves. It then conducted targeted testing and culling of BVD persistently infected animals, with follow up surveillance of blood testing afterward to ensure herds stayed virus-free. The program, in a country where vaccination for BVD has never been allowed, took the percentage of herds with BVD PI animals from a high of 10 percent down to 0.01 percent 10 years later. The researchers estimate the running cost of the program over 10 years at not quite $9 million dollars. In return, they estimate the program will save that country’s dairies and beef herds collectively between $8.5 and $34 million yearly in productivity losses.
“That makes the $8.7 million total cost of the 10 year project well worth it!” gushed one U.S. cattle blogger. “So, what are the chances that we could learn from the Norwegians to implement our own BVDV program?”
If we learn anything, it’s probably that the United States is a long way from Norway, at least if the second journal article, from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, gives any indication.
Reporting on what they believe to be the first large-scale attempt at eradicating the BVD virus on a regional scale in the United States, a team of veterinary researchers led by Michigan State Professor Dan Grooms dissects the successes and failures of the Michigan Upper Peninsula Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus Eradication Project, which ran from late 2007 until it was killed in 2012. Designed as a low-input voluntary program with the ultimate goal of eliminating all PI cattle from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—an area about one-tenth the size of Norway, a country which itself is less than twice the size of the Flint Hills grazing region of Kansas and Oklahoma—the project was evaluated as a potential model for BVD eradication in other regions of the country, which could then set the stage for eventual national BVD eradication.
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