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New ways to fight cattle virus

Agricultural Research Service scientists are ready to take to the next level efforts to eradicate the bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV).

BVDV causes animal diseases that affect reproduction and nutrition, milk production and respiratory function. Pregnant cows that are infected can have spontaneous abortions or give birth prematurely, while calves born with BVDV may be persistent carriers that can infect additional herds.

There's no treatment for BVDV, which costs U.S. cattle producers millions of dollars in losses each year.

According to microbiologist Julia Ridpath of ARS' National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, decades of vaccination and voluntary control programs aimed at eliminating the virus from the United States have not worked.

Also at Ames, microbiologist John Neill is applying a method that detects alterations in cancer cells in humans toward understanding disease mechanisms in animals infected with the virus.

An extensive management program encompassing vigilance, biosecurity education and continued research is needed, according to Ridpath.

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