By Marty Clark
November 7, 2001
A new type of pestivirus in wildlife
has been identified by Agricultural Research
Service scientists. Pestivirus is a scientific term for a group of viruses
that include economically important livestock diseases such as bovine viral
diarrhea (BVD) viruses and hog cholera virus, also known as swine fever virus.
Pestiviruses can also cause reproductive failure and congenital defects in
ARS microbiologist Julia F. Ridpath and colleagues from the
National Animal Disease Center
(NADC), Ames, Iowa, characterized the new virus, which was isolated from
antelope tissues by Wyoming State University researchers.
No disease is associated yet with the new pestivirus, but its presence in
wildlife is significant because wildlife come in close contact with livestock
and disease can be transmitted. Identification of this new pestivirus is the
result of ongoing research at NADC to improve detection and control of
Current pestivirus research focuses on BVD viruses, which circulate in
cattle herds, leading to lower milk production, poor feed conversion and
significant reproductive problems. They are the most important enteric viral
agents of cattle in the U.S. Although many commercial BVD vaccines exist, they
continue to be one of the most costly disease problems facing cattle producers.
Losses could be reduced if a quick, reliable and technically simple test were
available to field veterinarians.
ARS and ImmuCell Corporation of
Portland, Me., have a research agreement to develop quicker, field-ready BVD
detection tests. In addition, ARS and Intervet, Inc., of Millsboro, Del., have
agreed to develop a new, more effective BVD vaccine.
Research on pestiviruses dates to the 1930's, when U.S. Department of
Agriculture researchers showed that hog cholera was caused by a virus. They
developed a test and a vaccine that led to the eradication of hog cholera in
the U.S. in 1978.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of