Isolates of non-cytopathogenic bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) virus from 18 persistently infected calves from one herd were compared by using monoclonal antibodies directed against the major viral glycoprotein gp53. All the isolates displayed an almost identical reaction pattern. Based on this antigenic analysis three cytopathogenic BVD and three non-cytopathogenic BVD viruses closely related to the non-cytopathogenic BVD herd isolate were selected. Six of the persistently infected calves were inoculated with a pool of the three closely related cytopathogenic BVD viruses and two with a pool of the three non-cytopathogenic BVD viruses. In addition three animals were infected with one closely related cytopathogenic BVD strain (Indiana) and two animals with the antigenetically different cytopathogenic BVD viral strain A1138/69. Regardless of the inoculation route all the animals superinfected with closely related cytopathogenic BVD viruses developed the characteristic lesions of mucosal disease within 14 days of infection. Animals which were inoculated with non-cytopathogenic BVD viruses which closely resembled the herd isolate, or with cytopathogenic BVD viruses which did not resemble the herd isolate did not develop any signs of disease. However, the latter group produced antibodies to the superinfecting virus.
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