A compulsory national programme to eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDv) began in Ireland on 1 January, 2013. The objective of the current study was to quantify the role of Trojan dams (animal(s) not persistently infected (PI) with BVDv but carrying PI foetus(es) and introduced to the herd while pregnant with the PI foetus(es)) in the farm-to-farm spread of BVDv in Ireland, and to identify herd-level risk factors for producing or introducing a Trojan dam. The study population included all BVD+ calves born in Ireland between 1 January, 2013 and 31 December, 2015, along with their dams. BVD+ calves included all calves on the national programme database with an initial positive or inconclusive virus test, without a confirmatory re-test (status BVDPOS) and those with an initial positive or inconclusive test and a positive confirmatory test (status BVDPI). The Trojan status of dams was determined after considering their history of movement and of potential BVDV exposure, relative to a defined window of susceptibility (WOS; days 30-120 of gestation). During 2013-15, there were 29,422 BVD+ birth events to dams that were not themselves BVD+, including 2526 (8.6%) most-likely attributable to Trojan dams. The percentage of these birth events attributable to Trojan dams was significantly different (P < 0.001) between years, being 7.1% in 2013, 9.2% in 2014 and 10.6% in 2015. During 2013, in 9.9% of herds with one or more BVD+ birth to non-BVD+ dams, at least one of these births was attributed to a Trojan dam. In 2014 and 2015, the percentages were 11.8% and 13.3%, respectively. In 2013, in 7.8% of herds with one or more BVD+ birth to non-BVD+ dams, all of these births were attributable to Trojan dams. In 2014 and 2015, the percentages were 9.2% and 10.7%, respectively. A logistic GEE regression identified dam parity, herd size and an interaction between herd type and season as significant predictors for the birth of a BVD+ calf to a Trojan dam. Significant predictors for the sale of a Trojan dam from BVD+ herds included those selling more than one pregnant female and those with more than 2 BVD+ animals in the herd. Introduction of pregnant adult females is a potential source of BVD+ births in BVD-free herds and may add to the burden of infection in non-BVD-free herds. Addressing this route of transmission will be critical for herds that are now free of infection and wish to continue to purchase animals without introducing it.
University College Dublin ->