Prevention Measures for BRSV

Bovine respiratory syncytial virus, or BRSV, is a fast-acting virus that is one of the main causes of pneumonia in beef and dairy cattle. Dr. Curt Vlietstra, a professional services veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim, shares three easy ways to slow the spread of BRSV on your cattle operation.

“The concepts of the BRSV protection are similar to a lot of other diseases that we try to protect against and that it really starts with the newborn calf and colostrum. And even there’s some things that we can do you to even influence the quality of that colostrum with the maternal immunity even during the dry period. Not specifically, as far as I’m aware of the BRSV, but certainly with some of the other respiratory viruses, we can enhance immunity in the colostrum by vaccinating the late gestation cow especially with the killed vaccine. But even if you don’t change anything with the vaccination schedule, getting enough good quality colostrum, we usually recommend a gallon to a gallon and a half within the first few hours of birth depending on the size of the calf. If the farm is able to test the quality of that colostrum, even better to make sure that we get enough of it and it’s a good quality and we get it in quickly enough.” 

He says there are a few preventative measures that can stop the spread of BRSV between calves.

“We want to provide these calves with a stress-free clean environment, good ventilation, plenty of bedding, adequate nutrition. Once those calves are born, try to prevent nose-to-nose contact and overcrowding, good hygiene, all those types of things, that again, are going to help for a lot of diseases but especially in a young calf.” 

Vlietstra explains why its important to consider a vaccine for BRSV.

“BRSV is one of the primary respiratory pathogens, and like other viruses, it can cause disease by itself but it can also compromise the immune system and kind of pave the way for secondary invaders to come in. And so, the good thing is that we’ve got vaccines that have shown to be very effective against BRSV. If we’re talking about young calves specifically, there are different options, different routes of administration for the BRSV vaccine, but like a lot of the other respiratory diseases, it’s really important to start building the systemic immunity along with some of the local immunity in those young calves. A parenteral vac