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Virus kills 255 cattle in the Rheiderland


Doctors warn of the dangers of BHV1

A virus called BHV1 has occurred in various companies in the Rheiderland. An outbreak has so far been confirmed at two farms. As early as October, the virus on one of the farms had caused a total of 255 cattle to be killed.

The Rheiderland is a region in northern Germany and the neighboring Netherlands. The German part is in East Frisia. Medicines confirmed the outbreak of the BHV1 virus at two farms. All affected cattle were either put to sleep (114 animals) or slaughtered (141 animals) as soon as possible after compliance with legal requirements and with the approval of the ministry. However, there were some animals that had died before the experts could put them to sleep. Fortunately, the virus is harmless to humans.

Source of the viral disease is still unknown

There were also some animals that were not affected by the virus. These were kept in another stable, which was some distance from the courtyards. The affected company remained blocked until the pathogen could no longer be identified. In addition, cleaning and disinfection was carried out by a specialist company. Despite intensive epidemiological research, the source of the virus remains unknown.

Virus harmless to humans

At another company in the Rheiderland, samples were also taken to determine possible infections with the virus. The results of these investigations are still pending, the spokesman for the district of Leer, Dieter Backer, told the press. The disease can only be transmitted among animals, there is no danger for humans because the virus is harmless to them, the experts say.

What is BHV1?

BHV1 is the abbreviation for the bovine (bovine-specific) herpes virus 1. Since 1997, this animal disease has been a notifiable disease under animal disease law. The disease can take different forms as it progresses. Some cattle also show no signs of the disease, in these the infection can only be determined by legally prescribed examinations. There are also cases in which affected cattle suffer from fever and severe inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Some animals also have so-called calving, explains an official veterinarian.

Infected animals carry the virus for a lifetime

Because BHV1 is a herpes virus, an infected animal will carry the virus for a lifetime. In certain stressful situations such as calving, illness or transport, the animal can secrete the virus and thus infect other cattle. All members of the Herpesviridae family have this property of persistence. Nevertheless, the animal disease is harmless to humans.

How can companies protect themselves?

Even simple changes in business processes and management can increase companies' protection against BHV-1 infection, say experts from the Veterinary Office in Leer. These include, for example, the installation of so-called disinfection trays in front of the stalls. In addition, a ban on access for people outside the company should be declared. Employees must wear their own protective clothing and boots. Non-company visitors (e.g. veterinarian or cattle dealer) should use special clothing for one-time use. If certain devices (cattle driving vehicles) are shared with other farmers, the affected devices must of course be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each use. (as)

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