Ibr In Cattle

IBR is an acute, contagious respiratory disease of cattle caused by bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1), commonly affecting the respiratory tract and the reproductive system. It is highly contagious, resulting in rapid spread of respiratory disease among cattle in close confinement, particularly in feedlots and when groups of cattle are transported. Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) is a highly contagious, infectious respiratory disease that is caused by Bovine Herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1). It can affect young and older cattle. In addition to causing respiratory disease, this virus can cause conjunctivitis, abortions, encephalitis, and generalised systemic infections.

IBR is characterised by acute inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. After the first infection, the virus is never fully removed. It stays behind in nerve cells in the brain as a life-long latent (hidden) infection. However, at times of stress the virus can begin to multiply again and may be re-excreted, generally from the nose and the eyes; an animal which has been infected can never be considered safe.


IBR is a highly contagious and infectious viral disease that affects cattle of all ages. Infection occurs by inhalation and requires contact between animals spreading quickly through the group.  The disease is characterised by inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.  The virus that causes IBR, Bovine herpes virus 1 (BHV 1) also causes infectious pustular vulvovaginitis in the female, and infectious balanoposthitis in the male and can cause abortions and foetal deformities. IBR is endemic in the UK with around 40% of cattle having been exposed to the virus in the past. Infected cattle develop a latent infection once recovered from the initial infection and despite appearing clinically normal may suffer recrudescence of disease when under stress.

IRB stems from Bovine Herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1) and causes a whole host of detrimental health problems for your cattle. Understanding and identifying IBR as well as knowing how to treat and prevent it is essential for the well being of your livestock. Keep reading to learn how to spot the signs and what to do if your cows become infected.

How is it activated and transmitted

IBR outbreaks typically occur after stressful events such as ear tagging, weaning, calving, changes to housing or TB testing. Transportation is also a big cause, particularly when they have come through markets, where they can easily pick something up.


  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hyperaemia of the mucosae
  • Mucosla lesions
  • Nasal discharge
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Drop in milk production
  • Infertility
  • Abortion


Control of IBR is based on four equally important aspects:

  • Selective culling – Reduction of circulating virus can be achieved with the introduction of a vaccination program and progressive culling of those animals that are identified as a potential source of the virus. In farms with a very low sero-prevalence (proportion that are positive on an antibody test) culling without vaccination can be an option. However in most farms due to the high sero-prevalence it is not economically feasible to test and cull all the sero-positive animals.
  • Biosecurity – Maintaining biosecurity involves avoiding introduction of infected animals into the herd and/or implementing stict isolation / quarantine of introductions until proven negative, and restricting access of livestock to external sources of infection e.g. double fencing is in place at all perimeters, considering carefully sources of biological materials such as embryos, semen etc.
  • Vaccination – The use of live vaccines is preferred above the inactivated ones because of the superior efficacy in clinical protection and more importantly in reduction of the virus circulation in newly infected animals. MSD Animal health market live (Bovilis IBR Marker Live) and inactivated (Bovilis IBR Marker Inac) vaccines. Further product specific information on Bovilis IBR Marker Live or on Bovilis IBR Marker Inac may be obtained by clicking on the relevant product of interest for your region under the product list tab on the MSD Animal Health homepage. Bovilis IBR Marker Live can now conveniently be mixed with Bovilis BVD and given on the same day for booster vaccination.
  • Monitoring – This varies depending on the nature and risk status of your herd. Appropriate screening programmes can be discussed with your local veterinary practitioner.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

error: Content is protected !!