ARF's Response TO BVDV and FAQ

ARF Responds to Rising Concerns and Questions from Alpaca Breeders on BVDV

October 2005

On March, 24, 2005, ARF held a special meeting to discuss the response to Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV).  Two veterinary virologists were invited to participate.  Dr. Donald Mattson of Oregon State University and Dr. Edward Dubovi, Cornell University shared their knowledge of testing and control of the spread of BVDV.  The abbreviated minutes of this special BVDV meeting are available on the ARF  Drs. Mattson and Dubovi are continuing to serve as consultants to ARF in the area of BVDV concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV):

  1. Will vaccination of my alpacas protect my herd from BVDV infection?
    No. Based on studies in cattle, we have to assume that vaccination of the dam does not prevent the birth of persistently infected (PI) crias, who will continue to spread the infection for their entire lives.
  2. Can a cria that is persistently infected with BVDV in utero develop antibodies later in life and fight its own infection?
    No. A cria that was exposed to a particular strain of BVDV in utero during the time when it did not recognize the virus as foreign (first trimester in cattle) will never develop antibodies to that strain even when it becomes immunocompetent, although it may develop antibodies to other strains.
  3. Will antibodies in the dam's milk be effective against the virus in the persistently infected cria?
    No. Colostral antibodies will not cure the PI cria.
  4. If my cria appears healthy can I be sure it is not persistently infected with BVDV?
    No. While most PI crias appear sick, some do not show any clinical signs of disease and may in fact grow to be adults that continue to shed the virus.
  5. How can I determine if my herd is virus free?
    Consult with your veterinarian and develop a plan that best suits your herd's needs. Testing methods can be found on the ARF website under BVDV census. In the next few months you may be asked to participate in an ARF funded research study that will offer you free and confidential testing for BVDV. The study will help us to determine the prevalence of BVDV in North American alpaca herds. Please plan to participate whether or not you have had your herd tested previously.
  6. What should I do if one of my alpacas is found to be persistently infected with BVDV?
    All PI animals must be euthanized to prevent further spread of the virus.

On May 1, 2005, ARF sent out an RFP to all Colleges of Veterinary medicine in the United States and Canada to determine the prevalence of BVDV in North American alpaca herds. Four proposals were received on September 1st. They are currently under review with funding to start on November 1st. If you receive a request for samples from your alpacas to test for prevalence of BVDV in your herd, it is very important that you respond. The larger the response, the faster we can determine the significance of a BVDV problem and set up appropriate measures to control it.