Vertical transmission of bluetongue virus serotype 8 virus in Dutch dairy herds in 2007

I.M.G.A. Santman-Berends, L. van Wuijckhuise, P. Vellema, P.A. van Rijn

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In February 2008, evidence was found for transplacental infection of bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) in PCR negative, seropositive heifers in Northern Ireland originating from the Netherlands. The relevance of this route of transmission was studied in Dutch cow–calf combinations in the Netherlands of which the calves were born in the same time period of the year as the calves from the exported heifers, the first quarter of 2008. Blood samples were tested from 385 cows and their calves, housed in 43 dairy farms that became naturally infected with BTV-8 for the first time in 2007. All calves were at least 10 days old at the moment of first testing. In total 229 cows tested seropositive for BTV-8. Eight of these cows were still PCR positive. Out of the 229 seropositive cows, 37 calves (16.2%; 95% CI: 11.4–21.0) were tested PCR positive in the first sample taken in April 2008. In the first week of June, 34 out of the 37 PCR positive calves were still available for resampling. Three calves were still PCR positive; one was 5 months old, the other two were 3 months old. One month later, in the first week of July, all initially PCR positive calves, including the three still tested positive 1 month earlier, were PCR negative. We showed that BTV-8 can be vertically transmitted from cow to calf and can result in healthy looking viraemic calves remaining PCR positive for up to 5 months. These PCR positive calves could play a role in the epidemiology, and in particular in overwintering of BT. However, further investigations are needed to evaluate the importance of this route of transmission
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-35
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • cattle
  • netherlands
  • strains

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