UK - A new bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) vaccine called Bovela® is being launched by pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica to farmers during April 2015.
After years of research, development and extensive trial work, Bovela looks set to radically change the way BVD is controlled on-farms throughout Europe by offering unrivalled flexibility and improved control of this costly and endemic disease.
“BVD remains the most common viral disease affecting cattle throughout Europe, despite vaccines being available for over 15 years,” comments Allan Henderson of Boehringer. “We asked farmers why this was the case and, without exception, they remarked that current vaccine protocols are unwieldy, requiring precise timings making them hard to follow.
“Bovela is a unique one-shot vaccine that can be used in cattle from three months of age and also whether pregnant or not. Other, currently available vaccines require a two-dose primary course with boosters annually or even every six months thereafter,” he explains.
BVD is spread within herds and to new herds through the presence of persistently infected (PI) animals. PIs can look relatively healthy and show no outward signs of infection but, as they were exposed to the virus as a foetus, have become virus carriers. If they are born alive, they will shed virus consistently throughout their lives so perpetuating the cycle of infection.
“The foetal control delivered by Bovela gives absolute confidence that cows will not produce PIs,” says Mr Henderson. “This, alongside the drastically improved convenience will undoubtedly make Bovela the natural choice for many farmers, both on beef and dairy farms.”
Around 60 per cent of cattle in the EU test positive for exposure to the BVD virus and, although BVD type 1 is currently the most common form, outbreaks of BVD type 2, were confirmed in 2013 and 2014 in Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands. BVD type 2 is generally a more serious disease, with high levels of mortality and while the virus has been identified in UK, it has not yet been identified as the cause of serious outbreaks of disease in cattle.
“Bovela is the first and only vaccine in UK which has been proven to protect cattle from BVD type 1 and 2,” Mr Henderson adds. “It has been in development for 17 years and, gained a marketing authorisation following assessment of an unprecedented quantity of data generated in both beef and dairy herds.
“Work has looked at the efficacy of Bovela in preventing the production of PI calves and against type 1 and 2 BVD as well as confirming its efficacy in young calves as young as three months of age as their natural maternal protection wears off. Trials also confirmed vaccine safety generally and during various stages of pregnancy. We do not believe that any other BVD vaccine has been tested as rigorously,” he states.
Control of BVD depends on understanding farm BVD status, identification and removal of PIs, biosecurity and on-going monitoring as well as vaccination. Seeking veterinary advice on how to best tackle BVD in your herd is the best starting point. Bovela can fit into an existing BVD control programme or can help with the start of a new one and it may be used to support eradication both at herd and regional level.
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