ISSN 2398-2993      

Bovine parainfluenza virus III


Veronica Fowler

Tammy Hassel

Synonym(s): PI, paramyxovirus, bovine respiratory disease complex




  • Family: paramxyoviridae.
  • Genus: respirovirus.
  • Species: bovine parainfluenza virus III.

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Clinical Effects



  • Bovine parainfluenza virus III is transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or by aerosols produced through exhalation, coughing or sneezing.
  • Once inhaled by an unaffected animal the virus infects and destroys the epithelium of the respiratory tract and alveoli.
  • The virus also infects macrophages within the alveoli which affect the ability of the animal to resist secondary bacterial infections.
  • Transmission is facilitated by overcrowding and poor ventilation Ventilation: why it's important.
  • Transmission rate is higher if the animal is stressed, due to transportation, changes in the external environment (temperature), injury or malnutrition.

Pathological effects

  • The clinical presentation of infections with bovine parainfluenza virus III vary considerably, ranging from asymptomatic infections to severe respiratory illness.
  • The virus infects the ciliated epithelium of the respiratory tract, aveolar epithelium and macrophages. Following this the removal of mucus is impaired. Secondary bacterial infection is then common.
  • Most present with fever, nasal and lacrimal discharge , cough and increased respiration rate
  • The majority of animals recover within a few days but animals which are stressed often exhibit more severe symptoms.
  • Due to the immunosuppressive effect caused by infection of macrophages, secondary bacterial infections resulting in severe bronchopneumonia can develop. In extreme cases this can lead to death of the animal.


Control via animal

  • High stocking density is a known risk factor for the spread of BRDC caused by bovine parainfluenza virus III.
  • Infected and exposed animals should be isolated in order to prevent further transmission.

Control via chemotherapies

  • There is no treatment for bovine parainfluenza virus III infection itself, however if secondary bacterial infection develops antibiotics are to be administered.


  • Licenced vaccines containing inactivated strains of bovine parainfluenza virus III are available in the UK; however these provide only short term (~ 6 months) immunity.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Grissett G P, White B J & Larson R L (2015) Structured literature review of responses of cattle to viral and bacterial pathogens causing bovine respiratory disease complex. J Vet Intern Med 29 (3), 770-80 PubMed.
  • Ellis J A (2010) Bovine parainfluenza-3 virus. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 26 (3), 575-93 PubMed.
  • Horwood P F, Gravel J L & Mahony T J (2008) Identification of two distinct bovine parainfluenza virus type 3 genotypes. J Gen Virol 89 (7), 1643-8 PubMed.
  • Sato M & Wright P F (2008) Current status of vaccines for parainfluenza virus infections. Pediatr Infect Dis J 27 (10), 123-5 PubMed.

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