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Information on Diseases

Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR)

Why is IBR important?

  • IBR virus affects the upper respiratory tract and can lead to fatal pneumonia.
  • IBR virus causes a severe and prolonged drop in milk yield.
  • IBR virus can result in permanent infection with reactivation and release of virus at times of stress.
  • IBR is a barrier to the export of live cattle to other regions or countries within Europe, where the disease has already been eradicated.  In future, herds will have to prove freedom from IBR to export to these markets.

How is IBR transmitted?

  • IBR is spread through the introduction of carrier animals to the herd.
  • IBR is spread across boundary fences by contact with infected cattle.
  • IBR virus is shed from the respiratory tract through coughing and nasal discharges
  • IBR is spread in the semen of infected bulls. 

How can you control IBR?

For herds that show no evidence of IBR there is an accreditation programme that safeguards freedom from disease. For herds where the disease is present there is a control and eradication programme to remove the disease from the herd. Vaccination can be used effectively to control the disease, but unless the marker vaccine is used vaccinated herds cannot become accredited.

Key facts

  • IBR is an important cause of financial loss to British beef and dairy farmers.
  • IBR infection in a herd will prevent exports to IBR-free regions and countries.
  • SAC provides a cost effective IBR Screening and Eradication Programme for infected herd
  • The IBR Accreditation Programme provides assurance and the status “accredited free of IBR”
  • The Scheme is licensed by CHeCS and all tests are accredited by UKAS to ISO17025.
    Note that this document is a guide to the disease and the testing programmes. It does not cover all testing outcomes or variations in testing programmes for the control and eradication of IBR.

To determine the best approach for your herd we recommend that you discuss your objectives for the herd with your veterinary surgeon. At this meeting the herd biosecurity can be reviewed and upgraded to meet with the scheme requirements and a testing schedule drawn up to determine the disease status of the herd.

The IBR vaccinated and monitored free programme

This is applicable to herds which can not achieve full double fencing biosecurity requirements and demonstrates that the herd is operating a marker vaccination programme and is free from IBR infection based on gE antibody testing.  It is a lower level of health status compared to IBR accredited free herds. 

  • With permitted exceptions all stock over 12 months old should be marker vaccinated for IBR.
  • Please note that any sale animals or animals for export or potential AI should NOT be marker vaccinated and the vaccination protocols should be discussed with your vet. 
  • Two herd tests are carried out between 4 weeks and 12 months apart
  •  All animals over 12 months of age and non –homebred animals young than 12 months are eligible for testing
  • If these 2 herd tests are clear then the herd is accredited as vaccinated and monitored free.

IBR Accreditation Programme

  • Review and upgrade herd biosecurity programme to meet the rules of the scheme (see rules summary or CHeCS technical document).
  • Test all animals of twelve months and older and all non home-bred animals.
  • Where all animals test negative this is a clear first qualifying herd test.
  • The second qualifying test can be carried out at one to twelve months later. A clear test at that time confers accredited status.
  • Annual testing is required to maintain accredited status. This is done on a statistically based sample from each group of animals over 12 months of age.

Premium Cattle Health Scheme (PCHS)

PCHS logo

Address: SRUC Veterinary Services, Greycrook, St Boswells TD6 0EQ

Telephone: 01835 822456

Fax: 01835 823643


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