BVD - Bovine Viral Diarrhea
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 16:31

I just finished re-reading an article in the Spring 2009 edition of Alpacas Magazine called “Controlling the Spread of BVDV”.  The article describes a project by Dr. Clayton L. Kelling.  The purpose of this project was to determine the prevalence of BVDV in the North American alpaca herd, and to identify control strategies.

What is BVD, and why do we need to be concerned about it?  The article begins by explaining that Bovine Viral Diarrhea is a world-wide disease that affects cattle and even-toed ungulates (including alpacas).  The disease manifests itself in alpacas in a wide range of symptoms ranging from little or no sign to high fever, respiratory infection, oral ulcerations, diarrhea and abortions, with severe cases resulting in death.  “In pregnant animals, the virus may cross the placental barrier and infect the fetus.  Depending on the time of fetal development, the fetus may not recognize the virus as such and fails to mount an immune response.  If it is not aborted, an alpaca cria infected in utero will be born persistently infected (also known as “PI”) and shed the virus over its entire, usually short, life span.”

I have to admit that before reading this article, I had the impression that BVD was some rare disease that was ‘out there’; I didn't think that I needed to worry about it.  The study clearly demonstrates otherwise.  I hope that more breeders (local and afar) read the study and review their own methods for controlling the illness.  The first method described in the article – testing for PI crias – is one that we already use on our farm.  Each animal in our herd has been tested to ensure that they are not PI, and we will continue to test crias born on our farm.  Testing doesn’t mean that our animals will never get BVD or that we will never have a PI cria born here, but by testing and encouraging other farms to test, hopefully we can identify PI crias early and therefore curb the spread of the disease.