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DESPITE decades of research, controlling bovine respiratory disease (BRD) remains one of the hardest challenges in practice (Fulton and Confer 2012). Although the infectious agents, risk factors and immunological responses involved have been extensively documented, this has not led to a markedly reduced BRD incidence. On the contrary, the continuing trend towards larger herds with a more complex contact structure has only increased the risk for BRD and its financial consequences (Gulliksen and others 2009, Woolums and others 2013). Today, the BRD cost in the North American beef cattle industry alone is reported to be greater than US $500 million annually (Miles 2009). In dairy cattle, BRD significantly influences first lactation survival (Bach 2011), and in the veal industry, which processes the excess male dairy calves, a single episode has been shown to reduce carcase weight by 9 kg on average (Pardon and others 2013).
Improved diagnostic techniques for BRD, especially molecular testing (PCR – classic, real time or multiplex), in-situ hybridisation or DNA sequencing methods (MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry), have now become widely available (Fulton and Confer 2012, Pereyre and others 2013). Test development has even outpaced validation in the field, especially when it comes to diagnosing group problems (Fulton and Confer 2012). Unfortunately, in most European …
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