Blood samples were taken from bull calves at two Meat and Livestock Commission performance testing centres, just after weaning at six months of age and at six weekly intervals until the end of the performance test seven months later. Sera were assayed by specific ELISAS for antibodies to bovine herpes virus 1 (BHV1), respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza 3 (Pi3) and adenoviruses A and B. Seroconversions between each sampling were related to the occurrence of clinical respiratory disease using chi-squared (chi 2) and relative risk (RR) analyses. In 294 bulls there were 123 cases of respiratory disease. Seroconversion to bovine respiratory syncytial virus (RR = 4.7, chi 2 = 96.3, P less than 0.001) and adenovirus A (RR = 1.8, chi 2 = 8.9, P less than 0.001) and adenovirus B (RR = 1.9, chi 2 = 5.6, P less than 0.05) were significantly associated with clinical respiratory disease. There was evidence that prior exposure to respiratory syncytial virus (RR = 0.4, chi 2 = 9.8, P less than 0.01) Pi3 (RR = 0.4, chi 2 = 12.8, P less than 0.01) and adenovirus A (RR = 0.7, chi 2 = 7.5, P less than 0.01) conferred some protection against respiratory disease after arrival at the centre. It is concluded that vaccination before weaning, at least against bovine respiratory syncytial virus, would be beneficial.
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