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Farm Animal Practice
Sampling programmes to establish and monitor the infectious disease status of cattle herds
  1. Steven Van Winden

    Steven Van Winden graduated in 1996 from Utrecht University, in the Netherlands, and worked at the clinic for internal medicine of large animals, latterly specialising in cattle. He holds an MSc in epidemiology and a PhD for studies on the pathophysiology of abomasal displacements. He is currently a lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).

  2. Dirk Pfeiffer

    Dirk Pfeiffer graduated in 1984 from Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. He holds a PhD in veterinary epidemiology from Massey University, New Zealand. He is currently the chair in veterinary epidemiology at the RVC.


INFECTIOUS diseases can play an important role in the economic viability of a beef or dairy enterprise. In particular, disease introduced into a naive herd can have detrimental effects on production and mortality. As well as the costs associated with dealing with an outbreak, an infectious agent circulating in a herd can contribute to fertility problems, abortions, decreased milk production and loss of bodyweight. Sampling programmes can help to establish the presence of a disease and its prevalence in a herd. Armed with knowledge of the disease status of a herd, veterinary surgeons and farmers can jointly formulate an action plan to manage the disease(s) in question. This article discusses how to sample for and monitor a number of non-statutory diseases that are of particular economic importance to the cattle industry – namely, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, bovine viral diarrhoea, leptospirosis and Johne's disease.

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