Vaccine link to bleeding calf syndrome confirmed

Results from a Defra-funded study have found a calf was more than 10 times more likely to develop Bleeding Calf Syndrome if its mother had been given the PregSure BVD vaccine prior to its birth.

The study carried out by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Scottish Agricultural College, and Moredun Research Institute, found a “significant association” between the PregSure BVD vaccine and Bovine Neonatal Pancytopaenia (BNP), commonly known as Bleeding Calf Syndrome.

However, the link between the now withdrawn vaccine and Bleeding Calf Syndrome was found to be minimal – 16 cases for every 10,000 doses of vaccine used – with other European countries such as Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands showing higher incidences of the disease.

The study also revealed a possible increased risk of Bleeding Calf Syndrome in calves where sheep were kept on the farm, and calves were less likely to develop the disease if kept outside or in a herd that has been established on the farm for a long time.

The underlying cause of bleeding calf remains unclear, but researchers expect cases of the disease to reduce following the removal of PregSure BVD from the market in June 2010.

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