Approximately 75pc of Irish herds have IBR - how to know if yours does
IBR is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus caused by bovine herpes virus- 1, this virus is mostly involved in respiratory infections, according to Dr Maria Guelbenzu speaking at the recent National Beef Conference.
Results of a pilot IBR (Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis) Programme carried out on 25 suckler herds in 22 counties, showed that 75pc of the farms tested have been exposed to IBR and are carriers.
Farmers interested in selling home bred bulls to AI companies need to have their animals free from antibodies to IBR. They are prohibited from entering semen collection centres if they test positive.
IBR has worldwide distribution and in addition to the impact on health and performance also affects the trade of animals, semen and embryos. Infection is widespread in Irish herds, with approximately 75pc of both beef and dairy herds containing animals that have been exposed to IBR.
Clinical signs of IBR
Cattle with IBR typically have a watery discharge from the nose and eyes, with the face often being tear-stained according to Maria.
The animals may also present with red nose and eyes and lack of appetite. Affected animals may be dull, off their feed and have a high temperature, she explained.
Results to date show that 60pc of the tested herds are likely to have a low prevalence of infection, however this is not a representative of the national herd according to Maria.
IBR has also been associated with abortions, although available evidence shows that this is a sporadic event in Ireland.
Spread of Infection
The virus is mainly spead directly by close contact between animals. The nasal discharge from infected animals can contain very high levels of virus and as a result of infection, can spread rapidly across the herd according to Maria.
Although recovery is common in animals, this does not eliminate the virus. Instead the virus established a lifelong latent infection in the nerve cells within the animals brain, which can spread to other animals and cause illness.
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