Assessing the use of diagnostic laboratory accession data to support national bovine viral diarrhoea control in New Zealand

Assessing the use of diagnostic laboratory accession data to support national bovine viral diarrhoea control in New Zealand
Peer reviewed


Aims: To assess the suitability of using existing national diagnostic laboratory testing data to support national bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) research, surveillance, and control in New Zealand.

Methods: Data on laboratory accessions for BVD diagnostic testing in New Zealand from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2017 were provided by four commercial veterinary diagnostic companies. The data were integrated into a single dataset containing the unique accession number, sample submission date, farm location (territorial authority level), test type (bulk milk antibody-ELISA, bulk milk PCR, serum antibody-ELISA, blood/serum/tissue antigen-ELISA, or blood/serum/tissue PCR), and test results. Estimates for the number of registered cattle farms in each territorial authority were generated from the National Animal Identification and Tracing database. Results were summarised for July 2015 to June 2016 and July 2016 to June 2017.

Results: There was a total of 59,007 unique BVD diagnostic test accessions including 39,920 (67.6%) for bulk milk antibody-ELISA, 27,832 (47.2%) for bulk milk PCR, 3,229 (5.5%) for serum antibody-ELISA, 9,132 (15.5%) for blood/serum/tissue antigen-ELISA, and 7,122 (12.1%) for blood/serum/tissue PCR. Of the 17,946 accessions for blood/serum/tissue samples, 4,316 (24.0%) were missing the herd production type and 6,678 (37.2%) were missing the animals age. Approximately 7,000/10,958 (65%) dairy herds and 1,600/43,611 (4%) beef herds were conducting annual BVD screening tests. In 2016/2017, the prevalence of accessions with ≥1 BVD-positive result was 40.6% for bulk milk antibody, 6.4% for bulk milk PCR, 45.6% for serum antibody, and 9.8% for blood/serum/tissue antigen-ELISA or PCR tests. There was substantial regional variation in both the percentage of herds testing for BVD and the prevalence of positive accessions. Following pooled serum antibody-ELISA, only 175/604 (29.0%) beef herds and 177/566 (31.3%) dairy herds had recorded follow-up testing.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Laboratory diagnostic accession data has the potential to provide valuable insights about BVD epidemiology in New Zealand, but there are significant limitations in the data collected and discrepancies in the different systems that each laboratory uses to measure, interpret, and record diagnostic data. There is a strong need to develop a more consistent national system for recording and sharing BVD test results to support BVD management at farm and industry levels.

Abbreviations: BVD: Bovine viral diarrhoea; Ct: Cycle threshold; NAIT: National Animal Identification and Tracing; NZVP: New Zealand Veterinary Pathology; PI: Persistently infected; S/P: Sample to positive control

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