ISSN 2398-2993      

Bovine herpes virus: type 1


Veronica Fowler

Tammy Hassel

Synonym(s): Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, Infectious pustular vulvovaginitis, Balanoposthitis, Abortion




  • Order: herpesvirales.
  • Family: herpesviridae.
  • Subfamily: alphaherpesvirinae.
  • Genus: varicellovirus.
  • Species: bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1).

Active Forms

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Clinical Effects



  • Pathogen of cattle.


  • The virus is shed in respiratory tract secretions and is also present in bull semen .
  • Aborted fetuses can also be sources of infection.
  • Larger herds have more 'transmission contacts'. 
  • Sheep and goats can become infected and may transmit to cattle (although this is not considered significant).

Pathological effects

  • Incubation period is 2-20 days.
  • IBR manifests in two forms; respiratory and genital.
  • For subtype 1.1:
    • viral replication occurs in the mucus membranes of the upper respiratory tract.
    • It can also enter the nerve cells to establish latent infection.
    • If pregnant cows become viremic they can abort the calf Abortion and stillbirths.
  • For subtype 1.2:
    • virus replication occurs in the mucous membranes of the vagina or prepuce.
    • The virus can also enter the sacral ganglia which results in latent infection.
    • Large ulcers can arise from tissue necrosis.
    • Endometritis is possible from secondary bacterial infection Uterine infections: overview.
    • Abortion is unlikely to occur due to infection with subtype 1.2.


Control via animal

  • Vaccination. Respiratory vaccines
  • Cattle demonstrating clinical signs should be quarantined/slaughtered.
  • Avoid purchase of antibody positive cattle.
  • Test and slaughter/removal of seropositive cattle.

Control via chemotherapies

Control via environment


  • A range of inactivated, subunit and live vaccines are available.
  • Vaccination can prevent severity of disease but does not protect against latent infection.
  • Live vaccination may cause abortion and therefore should not be given to pregnant cattle.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Raaperi K, Orro T & Viltrop A (2014) Epidemiology and control of bovine herpesvirus 1 infection in Europe. Vet J 201 (3), 249-56 PubMed.
  • Graham D A (2013) Bovine herpes virus-1 (BoHV-1) in cattle–a review with emphasis on reproductive impacts and the emergence of infection in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Ir Vet J 66 (1), 15 PubMed.
  • Mahajan V, Banga H S, Deka D, Filia G & Gupta A (2013) Comparison of diagnostic tests for diagnosis of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis in natural cases of bovine abortion. J Comp Pathol 149 (4), 391-401 VetMedResource.
  • Nandi S, Kumar M, Manohar M & Chauhan R S (2009) Bovine herpes virus infections in cattle. Anim Health Res Rev 10 (1), 85-98 PubMed.


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