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Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) continues to cost the cattle industry more than $50 million a year. But one project has the potential to eliminate the problem region by region.

Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Extension, Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, and Pfizer Animal Health are partnering to design a BVD eradication program for Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

"BVD significantly impacts cattle health, welfare, and economic productivity across all segments of the industry," says Dan Grooms, Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. "With Pfizer Animal Health's technical support and funding, we are developing a five-year voluntary producer program that identifies, prevents, and hopefully will eliminate BVD in Michigan's Upper Peninsula."

Michigan's Upper Peninsula possesses three specific characteristics that make it ideal for eradication:

  1. It is geographically isolated.
  2. It has natural barriers for cattle movement.
  3. Cattle flow mainly out of the region.

Designed to address all facets of the disease, participating herds are tested for BVD infection and persistently infected (PI) calves. If PI calves are found, the animals are removed from the herd following the biocontainment plans. In herds that are BVD/PI-free, prevention programs that combine vaccines and biosecurity protocol are implemented. Animals are continually monitored to confirm their BVD status.

Throughout the program, researchers will record the health of the animals and herds, their reproductive efficiency, and the marketability of BVD-free cattle to demonstrate the increased value of these animals to potential buyers, as well as provide the industry with replicable management strategies.

These strategies will become the benchmark for successful disease-prevention protocols that can be implemented on other operations to help protect against BVD.

Entering its second year, MSU personnel have been working with producers in three target counties in the Upper Peninsula and will eventually expand to the entire region. Because this is a voluntary project, it is key that producers support it. With more than 80% participation, the project is off to an excellent start.

If the project is successful, Michigan's Upper Peninsula may become the first confirmed BVD-free area of the U.S.

In order to successfully eradicate the disease, producer outreach, education, and involvement from the cattle industry will play an important role. For additional information on the project, visit

In May 2007, a confirmed case of brucellosis, which can cause female cattle to abort their young, was reported in the state of Montana. According to federal regulations, Montana took immediate action to maintain their brucellosis-free status. But in June 2008, another confirmed case was reported, and the state lost its Class Free status.

In order to maintain brucellosis-free status, the state must be free of Brucella abortus for 12 consecutive months once it is deemed brucellosis-free. Since two cases were found twice in the past two years, the downgrade is no surprise.

Montana is taking action, however, to return the state to its former status. In January 2009, Montana implemented a plan requiring ranchers in seven high-risk counties, with exceptions, to test cattle for the disease to ensure there are no further outbreaks.

The estimated cost of this requirement is $2.4 million and will likely be picked up by the state. The funding is still being discussed as budgets are finalized.

"The other big question looming is a funding source," says Errol Rice, executive vice president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. "We're going to have to fight and scratch and claw."

Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) continues to cost the cattle industry more than $50 million a year. But one project has the potential to eliminate the problem region by region.

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