Eradication of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) in Cattle in Switzerland: Lessons Taught by the Complex Biology of the Virus.

Schweizer, Matthias; Stalder, Hanspeter; Haslebacher, Anja; Grisiger, Martin; Schwermer, Heinzpeter; Di Labio, Elena (2021). Eradication of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) in Cattle in Switzerland: Lessons Taught by the Complex Biology of the Virus. Frontiers in veterinary science, 8, p. 702730. Frontiers Media 10.3389/fvets.2021.702730

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Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) and related ruminant pestiviruses occur worldwide and cause considerable economic losses in livestock and severely impair animal welfare. Switzerland started a national mandatory control programme in 2008 aiming to eradicate BVD from the Swiss cattle population. The peculiar biology of pestiviruses with the birth of persistently infected (PI) animals upon in utero infection in addition to transient infection of naïve animals requires vertical and horizontal transmission to be taken into account. Initially, every animal was tested for PI within the first year, followed by testing for the presence of virus in all newborn calves for the next four years. Prevalence of calves being born PI thus diminished substantially from around 1.4% to <0.02%, which enabled broad testing for the virus to be abandoned and switching to economically more favourable serological surveillance with vaccination being prohibited. By the end of 2020, more than 99.5% of all cattle farms in Switzerland were free of BVDV but eliminating the last remaining PI animals turned out to be a tougher nut to crack. In this review, we describe the Swiss BVD eradication scheme and the hurdles that were encountered and still remain during the implementation of the programme. The main challenge is to rapidly identify the source of infection in case of a positive result during antibody surveillance, and to efficiently protect the cattle population from re-infection, particularly in light of the endemic presence of the related pestivirus border disease virus (BDV) in sheep. As a consequence of these measures, complete eradication will (hopefully) soon be achieved, and the final step will then be the continuous documentation of freedom of disease.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Virology and Immunology

UniBE Contributor:

Schweizer, Matthias and Stalder, Hanspeter


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




Frontiers Media




Pamela Schumacher

Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2021 10:53

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:54

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

border disease virus bovine viral diarrhoea virus eradication molecular epidemiology persistent infection pestivirus sheep transient infection




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