The abortion occurs as a result of fetal death, and the fetus is often partially decomposed. Cows who have aborted because of IBR infection frequently do not suffer delays in breeding back. Diagnosis depends on close observation for symptoms, exclusion of other diseases, and laboratory tests. Prevention of IBR may be accomplished through judicious use of vaccines, but any plans for vaccinating for IBR should be discussed with your veterinarian. Some of the vaccines may result in reproductive problems if administered at the wrong time in the breeding cycle, and use of MLV versus killed IBR vaccines are all subjects your veterinarian can help with.

Trichomoniasis (trich) is a venereal disease of cattle. It is caused by a protozoal parasite, Tritrichomonas foetus. Trich is hard to detect and eliminate.

Infection is from an infected bull at breeding time. The initial infection usually results in death of the embryo approximately 50 days later. Infected cows and heifers will return to heat, but rebreeding may be delayed.  Some of the infected cows may develop pus in their uterus, while others may abort. Others may carry a normal calf to term but become carriers to infect bulls in subsequent breeding seasons.

Detection is often through observation of increasing numbers of open cows, or an extended calving interval. Definitive diagnosis requires laboratory tests. Incidence of infection may be reduced through bull, heifer, and cow management. Bulls should be checked at least two weeks after they are removed from the cow herd.

Bulls testing positive should be culled. Remaining bulls should be retested weekly, and should be rested from breeding. Keep virgin bulls separate from other bulls. Purchase virgin bulls or those that have tested negative. Do not rent, trade, or buy used bulls. Artificial insemination, if viable for an operation, is a good way to preent infection. Examine all cows and remove nonpregnant cows.

A commercial vaccine is available for trich. It requires an initial immunization and booster before breeding and is given to cows only.

Reproductive failure in cattle results in enormous economic losses for the industry annually. The diseases listed in this article are not all-inclusive. However, they are found in Idaho and the West, and have a significant negative impact on the cattle industry.

More information about these diseases is available from the Nez Perce County Extension office at 360-799-3096 or from your veterinarian.

Here Are Three More Bovine Reproductive Diseases To Watch For
Commentary: Michele Pike

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Pike is the University of Idaho / Nez Perce County Extension Educator, 4-H and Youth / Livestock.  Lewiston Morning Tribune (June 2002)

Last week I wrote about the timeliness of a discussion of reproductive diseases in cattle, with the recent outbreak of brucellosis in a herd of cattle in southeastern Idaho.

While last wee I wrote about brucellosis, leptospirosis and Campylobacter, this week I am focusing on bovine virus diarrhea (BVD), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and trichomoniasis.

Bovine virus diarrhea is a prevalent disease in cattle. There are many viruses in this family and they mutate quickly.

Diarrhea may be mild and clear quickly, or severe, preceded by a fever and loss of appetite. Ulceration of the tongue, gums, and other mouth tissues may develop, as well as of the eye, teats, feat, vulva, or prepuce. In pregnant cows, BVD also infects the fetus. It may cause fetal death, mummification, abortion, stillbirth, birth defects, or persistent carriers.

Prevention is possible through use of good nutrition, reduced stress on the cattle, and isolation of newly purchased or sick cattle from the herd.

Vaccination for BVD may be desirable -- check with your veterinarian. Herds with persistent BVD infections may require screening through blood tests to determine if there are persistently infected animals within the herd. These animals need to be culled!!

Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) is another viral disease of cattle. The virus generally produces five clinical types of disease in cattle: respiratory, ocular, abortion, infectious putular vulvoaginitis and encephalitis. IBR is spread primarily through air or by contact.

IBR infection causing abortion may result from infection from a wild virus, or from vaccination using a modified live virus (MLV) vaccine.  Infection may occur at any stage of fetal development, but abortion is most frequently caused by infection at five to six months of gestation. The cow appears normal.