A new bovine coronavirus vaccine from has launched, offering farmers the opportunity to improve control of bovine respiratory disease (BRD).
Bovilis Nasalgen-C is an intranasal live vaccine that reduces clinical signs of upper respiratory tract disease and nasal viral shedding from infection with BCoV.
MSD Animal Health UK, which manufactured the vaccine, says it can be used for the active immunisation of calves from the day of birth onwards.
BCoV is a member of a family of viruses associated with both enteric and respiratory diseases in ruminants.
It is well-established as a cause of neonatal calf diarrhoea. When present in the respiratory tract, BCoV increases the risk for BRD in calves, resulting in respiratory infections with histopathological lesions and clinical signs.
Respiratory disease in UK calves is widespread and comes at a high cost from an emotional and business productivity perspective.
It’s a classic iceberg disease and one which is continually highlighted as a critical area for overuse of antibiotics.
Despite this background, vets say there is an under use of vaccination in the UK cattle sector.
Speaking at a vaccine launch briefing, Dr Paul Burr, vet and director of Biobest Laboratories, stressed that BCoV was highly prevalent in UK cattle.
“Recent UK studies show bovine coronavirus being the most prevalent virus found in routine disease screening and nasal swab samples taken during a bovine respiratory disease outbreak," he said.
"BCoV was found in 39% of over 400 nasal swab samples taken between 2020 and 2022 from BRD affected cattle on UK farms.”
Dr Baxter-Smith, veterinary adviser with MSD Animal Health, added that further evidence of BCoV exposure in UK cattle can be found in 2021-2022 screening surveillance data.
“Calf serology conducted by MSD Animal Health on 59 UK farms known to have had a history of BRD issues reported 91.5% of farms being positive for BCoV,” she said.
“Whilst the pathogenicity of BCoV within the BRD complex remains an unknown quantity, its ubiquitous presence in the UK cattle population suggests a need for a re-evaluation of BRD control by vets and farmers.
“Just as coronavirus is a pathogen associated with the common cold and Covid-19, BCoV is a proven pathogen that directly impacts the calf respiratory tract.
"Consequently, the availability of this new BRD vaccine presents veterinary professionals with another tool in their armoury to improve control of this costly disease."