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United Kingdom

Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis


cows inside


IBR, an upper respiratory tract disease caused by Bovine Herpes Virus 1 (BHV-1), is endemic in the UK, with infected animals found in 73% of beef suckler herds1. This highly infectious virus can be spread:

  • Directly by nose to nose contact

  • Through the air over short distances

  • Indirectly such as on clothing and equipment or via infected semen

The risk from IBR is particularly high in purchased store / finishing cattle 6-18 months of age. Clinical signs include discharge from the eyes or nose, fever, respiratory signs such as coughing, and inappetance. IBR can also form part of a mixed infection with other pneumonia viruses and bacteria, resulting in more generalised respiratory disease. Occasionally IBR can cause severe neonatal disease and deaths in calves less than one month of age.

Once infected, animals are infected for life, carrying the virus and, during periods of stress (such as weaning, mixing, transport, housing) these animals can start shedding virus again, acting as a source of infection to other cattle and potentially triggering an outbreak of disease in the herd.

Disease in adult beef cows can be either typical upper respiratory tract disease, or less commonly reproductive tract disease (abortion and infertility), but importantly carrier cows can act as a source of infection to their off spring, so disease control in the adult cows may be required to aid control of IBR in the youngstock.

Vaccination acts as an aid to the control of disease. In high risk herds where stock are regularly introduced (purchased replacements, breeding stock, hired/borrowed bulls, stock returning from sales/shows and contract rearers/finishers) vaccination should be used alongside good biosecurity measures to improve disease control.



1. Woodbine K.A., et al. (2009) BMC Veterinary research 5-5


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