Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus and Hepatitis C Virus

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Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus and Hepatitis C Virus

Virus Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus Virus Hepatitis C Virus
Structure Enveloped Structure Enveloped
Family Flaviviridae Family Flaviviridae
Primary Host Cattle Primary Host Humans
Disease(s) Caused Bovine Viral Diarrhea Disease(s) Caused Hepatitis C
Symptoms Fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, oral lesions, diarrhea, decreased milk production Symptoms Fatigue, nausea, muscle aches
Potential Complications Secondary bacterial infections Potential Complications Liver cirrhosis, liver cancer
Transmission Mode In utero, contact with secretions from persistently infected animals Transmission Mode Blood-borne
Sites of Community Outbreaks Farms, ranches Sites of Community Outbreaks Healthcare settings, drug users
Importance of Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus

Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) is an enveloped member of the Flaviviridae family. BVDV is a major pathogen for cattle and also serves as the U.S. EPA approved surrogate for Human Hepatitis C.

There are two types of BVDV, noncytopathic and cytopathic. The noncytopathic type is able to persist in the body by suppressing the immune response. This type is usually non-symptomatic in healthy adults, but can leave the animal more susceptible to other infections as a result of the immune suppression. The cytopathic type is responsible for mucosal disease, a fatal condition. Mucosal disease causes lesions on the intestinal walls, resulting in severe diarrhea and dehydration. Bacterial infection of the lesions contributes to mortality.

If a pregnant cow is infected with BVDV in the first trimester, the fetus’ developing immune system can ignore the virus, thus becoming persistently infected (PI). These animals, if they survive to birth, are the major source of transmission in a herd, shedding virus throughout their lifespan. Because the noncytopathic type suppresses the immune system, PI animals are more likely to become ill. Mucosal disease can arise in PI animals via either mutation of the persistent strain into the cytopathic type, or by secondary infection. This typically happens before the animal is 2 years old.

BVDV is accepted by the U.S EPA as a surrogate for disinfectant efficacy testing against Human Hepatitis C virus (HCV). A surrogate is necessary because HCV is difficult to propagate reproducibly in cell culture. BVDV works well as a surrogate due to a high degree of genomic similarity between the two viruses. Their genomes have been found to code for functionally identical proteins that can serve as targets for inactivation. Both viruses are of similar size and both are enveloped, indicating similar susceptibility to disinfection. In addition, both viruses establish persistent infections in their hosts at a similar frequency.

Importance of Hepatitis C

HCV is an enveloped member of the Flaviviridae family. HCV causes hepatitis C, a disease that affects the liver.

Infection with HCV can cause either an acute or chronic infection. About 15% of cases are acute, with the remainder being chronic. Acute cases typically cause mild symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and muscle aches. The liver is not usually involved. Chronic infections can result in liver cirrhosis or cancer. Co-infections and excessive alcohol consumption greatly increases the chances of this happening.

HCV is blood-borne. Transmission can occur in several ways. Intravenous drug use is a major vector. Tattoos performed with a non sterile needle or contaminated dye is another way that HCV can be spread. Healthcare settings can also pose a risk when reusable equipment is improperly sterilized, or when accidental needle sticks occur.

Importance of Disinfection: Survival of Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus and Hepatitis C on Surfaces and Potential for Transmission via Fomites

BVDV is spread primarily through direct contact with a PI animal. Transmission can also occur via surfaces contaminated with bodily fluids from a PI animal.

HCV has been shown to survive and remain infectious for up to 1 week. Infected surfaces, such as needles, can easily transmit HCV, as can contaminated suspensions.

Both BVDV and HCV are susceptible to a range of disinfectants, as with most enveloped viruses.

  • Buckwold, Victor E., Brigitte E. Beer, and Ruben O. Donis. “Bovine viral diarrhea virus as a surrogate model of hepatitis C virus for the evaluation of antiviral agents.” Antiviral research 60.1 (2003): 1-15.
  • Ciesek, Sandra, et al. “How stable is the hepatitis C virus (HCV)? Environmental stability of HCV and its susceptibility to chemical biocides.”Journal of Infectious Diseases 201.12 (2010): 1859-1866.
  • Doerrbecker, Juliane et al. “Inactivation and Survival of Hepatitis C Virus on Inanimate Surfaces.” The Journal of Infectious Diseases 204.12 (2011): 1830–1838. PMC. Web. 19 Jan. 2016.
  • “Hepatitis C FAQs for Health Professionals.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 08 Jan. 2016. Web. 19 Jan. 2016
  • Lindberg, A. L. E. “Bovine viral diarrhoea virus infections and its control. A review.” Veterinary Quarterly 25.1 (2003): 1-16.


Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus and Hepatitis C Virus

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