Update on infectious bovine rhinotracheitis

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Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) is the major disease caused by bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1), an important pathogen of cattle. Being an alphaherpesvirus, the virus establishes a lifelong latent infection in sensory nerve ganglia following primary infection. Latent virus can be reactivated by various stressful stimuli, and subsequent re-excretion of the infectious virus maintains infection within a herd. BoHV-1 is important to all cattle farmers because of the range of diseases it can cause and because infection can be a barrier to international trade; therefore, every cattle herd health plan should contain a strategy for its control. A feature of infections caused by the virus is their variability – from severe and fatal to mild and even subclinical – and outcomes are dependent on combinations of viral, host and environmental factors. An accurate diagnosis is crucial and control of disease is feasible given the excellent diagnostic tools, understanding of the biology of the virus and the availability of effective IBR marker vaccines. Eradication of the virus is also possible over a longer period of time. This article describes the virus and the diseases it causes, and then discusses options for diagnosis, vaccination, control and eradication, and possible priorities for further study.

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