Unmated heifers seronegative to bovine pestivirus were used to investigate the effects on conception and embryo-fetal survival of pestivirus infection around the time of artificial insemination. The reproductive performances of three groups were compared; the control group did not become infected during pregnancy, group 1 heifers were infected by contact with a persistently infected cow and calf four days after insemination and group 2 heifers were infected intranasally nine days before insemination. Conception rates and embryo-fetal survival were monitored by serial serum progesterone assays, transrectal ultrasonography and manual palpation of the uterus. The conception rates (determined 20 days after insemination) of 60 per cent (nine of 15) and 44 per cent (eight of 18) for groups 1 and 2 were lower than the 79 per cent (11 of 14) achieved by the control group. The group 1 heifers subsequently experienced significant embryo-fetal loss, resulting in a pregnancy rate (determined 77 days after insemination) of 33 per cent (five of 15), significantly lower than the control group's 79 per cent (11 of 14). The pregnancy rate of the group 2 heifers (39 per cent, seven of 18) was also significantly lower than that of the controls, largely as a result of the group's poor conception rate. All the heifers diagnosed pregnant 275 days after insemination were induced to calve. No persistently infected calves were born.
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