BRD Vaccine Could Help Prevent Most Common Cattle Disease

New Bovine Vaccine

Jennifer Carrico
By  Jennifer Carrico , Senior Livestock Editor
Use of a newly developed vaccine could be more efficient for cattle producers to prevent bovine respiratory disease. (Jim Patrico)

A researcher at Louisiana State University (LSU) has developed a new vaccine to fight the No. 1 disease fatalities in cattle: bovine respiratory disease (BRD).

BRD can kill up to 8 million calves each year, costing the U.S. cattle industry more than $1 billion. LSU professor of veterinary medicine Shafiqul Chowdhury says the vaccine is safer than other vaccines currently available.

Working with bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1), he genetically modified it to provide the protective proteins of other bovine respiratory viruses, including bovine viral diarrhea virus types 1 and 2, and bovine respiratory syncytial virus to help prevent BRD. This work took Chowdhury 10 years for development, and he has applied for a patent for the vaccine. Once acquired, a commercial company will manufacture the vaccine, as a licensing agreement has already been signed.

It is estimated that 20% of all cattle raised for beef production will require clinical treatment for BRD at some point in their lives, explains Matthew Scott, assistant professor of microbial ecology and infectious disease at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. BRD is considered a multifactorial disease complex because several factors play a role in its development, including genetic susceptibility, suppression of the immune system, stress, commingling with sick cattle, sudden weather/climate shifts and being exposed to pathogens.


Chowdhury says because of the way this vaccine was developed, it will be safer than the current cocktails of live vaccines, decreasing the calf mortality rate in vaccinated animals. The U.S. does not require marker or DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) vaccines, which can be distinguished from the virulent field viruses. Current vaccines are not DIVA/marker vaccines, allowing for the vaccine viruses to circulate and be maintained in the cattle population.

The new vaccine has no chance of causing spread and circulation of the vaccine virus. It is cost-effective since it uses one virus, genetically modified BHV-1, which grows well in cell culture. In current commercial vaccines, individual viruses are grown separately and then mixed.

This vaccine also does not cause abortion, a potential outcome among cows that reach adulthood after being given the commercial vaccine cocktail.

It is hoped the vaccine will prevent clinical signs of disease.

"At birth, calves can receive passive immunity from receiving the proper amount of colostrum," Scott adds. "As calves grow, their immunity can be boosted further with vaccines, dewormers and adequate nutrition."


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