April 2018 - Full implementation of Phase 4 of the BVD eradication scheme
Phase 4 of the BVD eradication scheme will be fully implemented from the 3 April. This will reward keepers who buy cattle responsibly, and will require anyone bringing in risky animals to test them for BVD or lose their BVD “negative” herd status. The risky animals are:
- Calves born on Scottish non-breeding holdings that have not been individually tested for BVD
- Cattle moving off a Scottish “not negative” herd that do not have an individual negative status (either BVD test result or assumed negative from having a calf)
- Cattle without individual BVD test results coming from herds outside Scotland
The full implementation of Phase 4 will mean an increase in BVD sampling for Scottish keepers who buy risky animals.
January 2018 - Latest map showing BVD exposure levels by county
The map below shows BVD exposure levels by county on the basis of the percentage of herds that have tested "not-negative". Those counties with darker areas have a greater level of exposure to the disease.
August 2017 - Consultation on Phase 5 of the eradication scheme launched
A consultation has been launched to seek views on proposals for Phase 5 of the eradication scheme . The proposals, that have been developed by the BVD advisory group, would make it increasingly difficult for farmers to continue to have BVD virus active in their herds, by actively inconveniencing them in terms of trading opportunities, further movement restrictions, and increased biosecurity controls.
The consultation closes on 6 November 2017 and is available at the following link: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/animal-health-and-welfare/the-bovine-viral-diarrhoea-scotland-order-2018.
May 2017 - Forward look from Scotland's Chief Veterinary Officer
I thought it would be timely to update you all on Scotland’s BVD eradication scheme. Seven years on, we are in phase 4 of the scheme and the level of exposure has dropped from 40% to 10% of herds. The reduction is due to great efforts on the part of cattle keepers and their vets to test the Scottish breeding herd, identify sources of BVD infection and remove them. While some farmers use tissue tagging only to test their herd, with little veterinary input, many have worked with their vets to implement a herd-specific testing and biosecurity regime. “My vet” is usually cited as one of the most important sources of information for cattle farmers: your influence in promoting BVD eradication to benefit your clients cannot be underestimated.
Where we are now? - The BVD scheme currently requires that all breeding herds ascertain their BVD status annually, that persistently infected animals (PIs) move only direct to slaughter, and that herds with a “not-negative” status cannot move cattle out unless they have been individually tested negative (or they are moved direct to slaughter). A huge amount of testing has taken place since the introduction of phase 4 in June 2015; more than half of the testing done in the lifetime of the scheme has been done since then and as a consequence many more PIs have been found: 2,300 since June 2015, out of a total of 4,300 in the life of the scheme. Identification and prompt removal of PIs is the cornerstone of BVD eradication.
Why aren’t we moving faster? - We would all like to see the eradication scheme progressing faster towards a satisfactory conclusion. One of the delaying factors is a reluctance to remove PIs from the herd as soon as their status has been confirmed. There are also those keepers who are content to live with their herd’s not-negative status; perhaps they are not aware of the advantages of eradication in terms of herd health and profitability, or they just don’t believe that eradication is possible for them. Another consideration is that some check tests are based on a very small number of young stock in large herds: in some of these cases, the number sampled may not be representative of the whole herd, risking undisclosed PIs.
The area with highest exposure to BVD is still the South West of Scotland: things have improved since 2010, but the South West still lags behind the rest of Scotland. The reasons for the uneven exposure to disease are not clear; it is not simply a case of disease incidence mapping to cattle population density. We are investigating the influence of cattle management systems, farmer behaviour and disease subtypes on the high exposure levels in SW Scotland.
Future plans - Looking ahead, the Scottish BVD advisory group have agreed that there should be further restrictions on not-negative herds to prevent disease spread. They are also reviewing the implementation of current legislation, which states that herds should lose their negative status when they bring in cattle from unknown status or not-negative herds. It was agreed in June 2015 that this was a ‘step too far’ so it has not been implemented yet. However, perhaps the ‘tipping point’ between allowing “business as usual” and preventing risky behaviour has now been reached?
Retention of PIs continues to be a vexed issue, and there have been calls to incentivise their early removal. One solution would be to require strict isolation of PIs. Another approach would be to pay the farmer for PI removal within a limited period after they are identified. Each of these approaches has pros and cons, including enforcement challenges in the former case and rewarding “late adopters” or incentivising “PI farming” in the latter.
The Scottish Government will hold a public consultation this summer on these proposals, comments from the profession will be warmly welcomed.
Future dangers for an increasingly naïve national herd - PIs used to be described as “natural vaccination”, although any drug company marketing a vaccine that caused equivalent levels of infertility, still births and immunosuppression would soon be out of business. However, as the number of herds exposed to BVD falls, natural immunity will wane, leaving the national herd very susceptible to BVD outbreaks. It will be more critical than ever for cattle keepers to maintain their biosecurity, with their vet playing an essential advisory role. For many herds, vaccination will be important, with attention to effective storage and administration. Other herds will be able to rely on physical separation of cattle, avoiding both direct and indirect contact. At present, most BVD outbreaks and on-going cases are caused by PIs in the same herd, but some are due to contact with PIs off-farm, e.g. neighbouring herds, shows, markets and via visitors acting as fomites. As eradication progresses, there will be proportionately more BVD breakdowns for which the source is off-farm and difficult, or impossible, to identify.
Priorities - BVD eradication will make Scotland’s cattle businesses more profitable and sustainable. In 2010 Scottish Government economists’ analysis showed that, once BVD was eradicated from the herd, the average dairy herd could save £16,000 per year, the average beef herd £5,000. BVD eradication also has a role to play in the global effort against antimicrobial resistance: avoiding the need to treat PIs and transiently affected animals will reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics.
Well-informed veterinary input is one of the keys to successful BVD eradication. The updated on-line CPD is available at http://flashserver.sac.ac.uk/cpdcourses/BVDtraining/ and is free to use for vets working in Scotland. I would encourage those of you who completed the training in previous years to refresh your knowledge. You can positively influence clients by pointing-out the value of investigating why a herd is not-negative, the importance of biosecurity when bought-in heifers (potential “Trojans”) calve down, and the enormous benefits of removing PIs at the earliest opportunity.
April 2017 - Introduction of a BVD positive herd status
From Monday 10 April, cattle herds where an animal has tested positive for BVD virus will see their BVD status change from not-negative to positive. This positive status will only apply to holdings where there is evidence of a live persistently infected (PI) animal in the herd. Once the PI has been removed from the holding, or the animal has been re-tested, allowing the presence of the virus to be ruled out, the BVD herd status will revert to not-negative.
BVD control is centred on the identification of PI animals and the removal of these cattle from the herd. Introducing a BVD ‘positive’ status will make the eradication scheme easier to understand and highlight herds that pose a higher BVD risk for those purchasing or moving cattle.
The Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (Scotland) Order 2013 has a mandatory annual screening requirement for breeding herds to establish whether or not a herd has been exposed to BVD. Cattle keepers can check the BVD status of their holding on the ScotEID website at www.scoteid.com/lookup
January 2017 - Eradication Scheme Progress
So far we have identified 4,387 PIs. Clearly we are still finding more as we passed the 4,000 mark back in November and it is good to see live PI numbers are going down. There is still work to be done though, as currently Scottish cattle keepers have 410 PIs alive on 167 holdings in Scotland. Similarly, we are making slow and steady progress with getting more breeding herds with a negative BVD status - 89.6% of breeding holdings now have a negative BVD status.
November 2016 - PI update
Scotland’s BVD eradication scheme has reached its 4,000th PI! Almost half the Persistently Infected (PI) animals that have been identified in the course of the scheme have been found since the introduction of phase 4 in June last year; this reflects the increased level of testing done by Scotland’s cattle keepers.
PIs are the source of the vast majority of BVD infection, the disease is prolonged with the birth of each new PI. From the moment that they are born, PIs are continually infectious to other cattle. This is why it’s important to remove the PI as soon as possible after it’s been identified. The two options are to kill the animal on farm or to send it direct to slaughter; PIs cannot travel via a market because they can easily infect other cattle.
In most cases, it takes a full year to re-establish a herd’s negative BVD status after removal of a PI. This is because you have to wait for all the heifers and cows that were pregnant while the PI was alive on the farm to calve, and then to test the calves for BVD virus. Only when all these results come back as BVD negative can the herd status be declared to be negative. This 12 month delay for return to negative status is another reason to remove the PI as soon as possible: the sooner it is gone from the herd, the sooner you can get your BVD negative status back.
August 2016 - Update on BVD sampling tags – what is allowed and what to avoid
The Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (Scotland) Order 2013 allows an animal to be sampled by management tissue tag once only. If the sample collection is unsuccessful for any reason, or the sample is not testable when it arrives at the laboratory, the animal must be re-sampled via a blood test. It is illegal for further tissue samples to be taken from the same animal using a management tag: replacement tissue sampling management tags must not be issued to cattle keepers in Scotland.
If an official tag has been used to sample the animal and sample collection is unsuccessful, the animal can be re-sampled using a management tag. But no further BVD tissue samples can be taken if the management tag tissue sampling is also unsuccessful.
If a cattle keeper has chosen to attain herd status by tissue testing calves, then all calves must be sampled. This includes still births and calves that die or are killed before they can be officially registered. Still born or dead calves will not have their own official identity and must therefore be sampled with a management tag and identified on the laboratory submission form using their dam’s official ID number followed by _CALF.
Once a BVD sampling management tag has been applied, it is illegal to remove it even if the sample taking has been unsatisfactory.
If the BVD sampling management tag falls out, is lost or becomes illegible, it must be replaced with a (non-sampling) management tag carrying the same number as the tag that has been lost.
The laboratory submission forms for BVD samples have been updated to make it easier for cattle keepers to provide the required information. If you supply submission forms with your tags, you may wish to update them accordingly.
July 2016 - Updated submission forms
Updated farmer and vet submission forms have been uploaded to our website. These forms can be found at the following links:
January 2016 - BVD General Licence
The temporary General Licence under the BVD Order that permits the movement of cattle from a holding with a 'not negative' BVD status to a market for onward consignment to a slaughterhouse ended on the 31 January 2016.
From the 1 February 2016, any cattle that move from a ‘not-negative’ holding will need to be tested BVD virus negative or have an indivdually assumed negative status.
June 2015 - Phase 4
In June 2015 we will entered phase 4 of the BVD eradication scheme. This requires that along with a continuation of the current mandatory annual screening and restictions on BVD infected animals there will be:
- Restrictions on 'not negative' herds
- Reduction of the testing options available
- Testing requirement for animals entering herds from untested herds
- Assumed negative status for dams of calves which have tested negative
A farmers guidance booklet and a guide for vets containing inforamtion about phase 4 control measures are now available.