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Other Deadly Diseases for Cattle and How They Work

July 22, 2021

Cattle also get the “flu”, most notably the Para‑Influenza 3 Virus (PI3), a RNA virus from the Paramyxoviridae family. PI3 is probably the most common respiratory disease virus in cattle. Unlike the previously discussed viruses, it tends to be limited primarily to respiratory problems; not the other parts of the body. While these infections tend to be relatively mild or even subclinical, the problem is that they all too often lead to secondary bacterial pneumonia. Many of the best vaccines for PI3 are given intra‑nasal (a natural form of transmission) which also lessens the toxic load of mercury, neomycin and other nasty adjuvants in every injectable vaccine product. 

There was an epidemic of the Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus (BRSV) in Europe in the 1970’s which came to the US in the 1980’s causing epidemic levels of infection. This is a cytopathic pneumonia virus from the Pneumovirus of the Paramyxovirus family. It also hits sheep and goats as well as many wild animals.  

There are far too many viral respiratory agents to discuss here, but one should be mentioned, the Bovine Respiratory Coronavirus (BRC). This would, of course, be a version from the same basic family that brought us the Covid‑19 coronavirus, a nasty “novel” mutant virus that is currently impacting the human population. The BRSV virus is not known to be transferrable to humans (zoonotic transmission), but many of the other viruses such as BVD and IBR can cause the occasional disease symptoms in humans. After all, with any live virus vaccine, no matter how modified it is or attenuated, it could affect the rancher as well. Most of us veterinarians have been exposed to both live Brucellosis Strain 19 and the live rabies virus, just from vaccination accidents alone. This is true now for many ranchers as well. I mention Covid‑19 because the bovine form is another case of scientists not really knowing how serious the bovine corona infection is, nor do they know much about how widespread it might be. This is primarily due again to the fact that there really is not much in the way of an accurate testing protocol. Typically, if newborn calves get a “pneumo‑enteritis syndrome” between 1‑8 weeks of age, many use the BRC virus as the diagnosis, but again this is not really based on science.


In addition to all of the ways that animals get sick and die from the Bovine Respiratory Disease syndrome, it is also noteworthy to mention some other losses. We know it will seriously reduce carcass marbling of fat, it lowers rate and efficiency of gain, and depending upon severity and duration, it increases the risk of “Dark Cutting” beef. 

Many consider a herd that is infected with any or all of these viral diseases should possibly be considered a virtual lost cause. Modern medicine basically throws up their hands and calls some cases incurable. It is most common to follow the draconian technique of killing any or all suspected Persistent Infected (PI) individuals, but, others would have you destroy or sell the entire herd and quarantine a while, then try to start over. All the typical aspects of the “Pasteur Germ Model” of disease are applied, which basically starts with extermination of the sick ones. I find it somewhat mind‑boggling, but the concepts of fulfillment of nutritional needs and proper stress management to prevent infectious diseases are virtually unmentioned in scientific studies and research. It is actually where I begin, and where I have seen stunning results! 

Next time we will start discussing how we can prevent or cure these diseases whether its through vaccines or natural herd immunity.

Matt Buhmann

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