Bovine viral diarrhoea, caused by the bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) in the Pestivirus genus of the Flaviviridae, is one of the most important diseases of cattle world wide causing poor reproductive performance in adult cattle and mucosal disease in calves. In addition it causes immunosuppression and increased susceptibility to other infections, the impact of which is uncertain, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where animals are exposed to a much wider range and higher intensity of infections compared to Europe. There are no previous estimates of the seroprevalence of BVDV in cattle in Cameroon. This paper describes the serological screening for antibodies to BVDV and antigen of BVDV in a cattle population in the Adamawa Region of Cameroon in 2000. The estimates of herd-level and within herd seroprevalences adjusted for test imperfections were 92% and 30% respectively and 16.5% of herds were classed as having a persistently infected calf (PI) in the herd within the last year based on the "spot" test approach. There was evidence of clustering of herds with PI calves across the north and west of the Region which corresponds with the higher cattle density areas and of self-clearance of infection from herds. A multivariable model was developed for the risk of having a PI calf in the herd; proximity to antelope, owning a goat, mixing with > 10 other herds at grazing and the catchment area of the veterinary centre the herd was registered at were all significant risk factors. Very little is known about BVDV in sub-Saharan Africa and these high seroprevalences suggest that there is a large problem which may be having both direct impacts on fertility and neonate mortality and morbidity and also indirect effects through immunosuppression and susceptibility to other infections. Understanding and accounting for BVDV should be an important component of epidemiological studies of other diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.
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