BVD testing continues – with ‘lowest levels’ of positives so far

Testing for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) continues uninterrupted in spite of the impact of Covid-19, and farmers are urged by the relevant authorities to get their tissue samples sent to laboratories in as usual during this time.

In a statement to AgriLand, a spokesperson for Animal Health Ireland (AHI) said:

“With more than 1.3 million calves born and close to 1.2 million calves tested to date, over 50% of the expected calves born in 2020 have already been tested for BVD.

So far, only 0.02% of those tested positive for BVD – the lowest levels recorded since the start of the programme.

“Despite these large volumes and the situation with Covid-19, turnaround times across the designated labs continue to remain within specified limits, with an overall average of one day from laboratory receipt to reporting.

“It is feasible that delays may be experienced on the postal system. However, it is possible that turnaround times may increase slightly in the weeks ahead.”

The spokesperson said that AHI is monitoring the turnaround times of the BVD designated laboratories on a weekly basis.

“To minimise the impact of any delays on normal farming practices, and to ensure continued progress toward eradication, it is important to continue to collect and submit samples as soon as possible after birth,” the AHI spokesperson concluded.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said that farmers should continue to tissue tag calves as soon as possible after birth and submit these to the designated BVD laboratories for testing as normal.

A spokesperson for the department told AgriLand: “Farm organisations have offered assistance where farmers are unable to submit samples, for example due to self-isolation or cocooning.

“Currently turnaround times for tissue tag testing are unaffected, but this may be subject to change.

“The small number of farmers who receive positive results are encouraged to remove the calves as quickly as possible, with confirmatory testing only being requested after discussion with their veterinary practitioners.

The BVD helpdesk will continue to contact farmers following positive results to provide information and to arrange for funded herd investigations to be carried through the TASAH [Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health] mechanism.

The department representative said the BVD national reference laboratory will prioritise testing of any confirmatory samples, and samples from the dams of positive calves. However, it was noted that the department’s laboratories are currently also supporting the national testing effort for Covid-19.

Other BVD samples will be held and tested as soon as resources become available, the department spokesperson concluded.