Bovine Parvovirus

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Also Known As: BPV — Haemadsorbing Enteric Virus — HADEN


Bovine parvovirus is one of more than 50 species of the parvivirus group. There are now thought to be three significant species: BPV1, 2 and 3. [1] BPVs are best known for causing diarrhoea in neonatal calves and also respiratory and reproductive disease in adult cattle.

This virus is very resistant to chemical and physical challenges. Anaerobic microbial digestion in manure appears to inactivate the virus.


Worldwide - Bovine parvoviruses have been found in every country where herds have been screened.

BPVs are very efficiently transmitted transplacentally. They are also spread via the faecal-oral route.


Only cattle are naturally infected. Pigs can develop antibodies after ingestion of BPV but develop no clinical signs.

Clinical Signs

Diarrhoea is the main clinical sign and is often alone.

Abortion and birth of weak or stillborn calves is the manifestation of reproductive BPV. Foetuses in the first trimester are most susceptible.

Cough, dyspnoea and nasal discharge may develop. Lymphopaenia is common on haematology.

BPV is made worse by concurrent GI infections such as coccidiosis.[2]


Fluorescent Antibody Test (FAT) and PCR are commercially available for diagnosis of BPV.

BPV can be isolated in cell cultures, and via haemagglutination, ELISA and electron microscopy.

Foetuses aborted due to BPV infection are oedematous and have increased pleural and peritoneal fluid. Intranuclear inclusion bodies are seen in the cells of the small intestine, lymph nodes, liver and cerebellum. Virus can be detected in foetal adrenals, lungs, spleen, heart and thymus by immunofluorescence (IF).

On post-mortem of infected calves, intestinal villous atrophy and fusion and crypt degeneration is visible histologically. There is also lymphoid tissue necrosis associated with the intestinal tract and thymus. Small intestine and caecum appear to be preferential sites for BPV infection and replication.


Treatment is usually by vaccination of dams during gestation, see below for details.


A vaccine is available against BPV, combined with other gastrointestinal pathogens. It is given in two doses, the first 6-8 weeks prior to parturition followed by another 4-5 week prior to calving.

Control can be achieved using organic acid based disinfectants also.

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  1. Allander, T., Emerson, S. U., Engle, S. E., Purcell, R. H., Bukh, J (2001) A virus discovery method incorporating DNase treatment and its application to the identification of two bovine parvovirus species. Proc National Academy Sci, USA, 98(12):11609-11614
  2. Durham, P. J., Johnson, R. H., Parker, R. J. (1997) Exacerbation of experimental parvoviral enteritis in calves by coccidia and weaning stress. J Vet Med Sci, 59(11):1023-1025


This article was originally sourced from The Animal Health & Production Compendium (AHPC) published online by CABI during the OVAL Project.

The datasheet was accessed on 19 June 2011.

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