The incidence of clinical respiratory disease in 698 young beef bulls kept in 68 pens, and their exposure to respiratory pathogens after their arrival at 51 fattening operations in western France were assessed. Antibodies against bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1), Mannheimia haemolytica and Mycoplasma bovis were measured by ELISA. The incidence risk of respiratory disease was 18.5 per cent during the first six weeks. Cases occurred in 37 of the 68 pens, and in these pens 30.9 per cent of the bulls were affected. Their exposure to BHV-1 was very limited. When they arrived a high proportion of the bulls were seropositive to M haemolytica and a high proportion seroconverted to BRSV, M haemolytica and M bovis within the first six weeks. The risk of incidence of respiratory disease was lower in the pens in which the bulls had been vaccinated against M haemolytica. Higher proportions of the bulls were affected in pens in which small proportions of the bulls were seropositive to M haemolytica or BRSV on arrival, and in pens in which high proportions of the bulls were exposed to M haemolytica or BRSV during the first six weeks.
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