Bovines Herpes Virus 1

Changed on: 15.03.2021
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Animal disease categories: C D E


The Bovine Herpes Virus 1 (BHV-1) causes various diseases in cattle: Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), Infectious Pustular Vulvovaginitis (IPV) and Infectious Balanoposthitis (IBP). There is no danger of infection for humans.


The virus is spread worldwide


The main hosts are cattle. Natural infections (but mostly without clinical manifestations) have been demonstrated in sheep and goats. Wild ruminants also appear to be susceptible to BHV-1 infections.

Mode of transmission

Transmission occurs by direct contact from animal to animal. Indirect transmission through persons and contaminated clothing, transport vehicles, equipment (stable utensils) is also possible.

Incubation period

2 to 6 days


An infection with the Bovine Herpes Virus 1 manifests itself in two forms: As IBR (= respiratory form) with, among other things, dullness, anorexia, fever (up to 42 °C), nasal discharge, cough or as IPV / IBP (= genital form).


There is no treatment against the BHV-1 pathogen.

Preventive measures

IBR/IPV/IBP is a notifiable animal disease. In case of suspicion of an epidemic, the legal requirements must be followed. Vaccination is prohibited in Austria.

Situation in Austria

Since 1999 Austria has been officially free of IBR/IPV. In order to maintain this status, annual monitoring programs are carried out in accordance with the requirements of Directive 64/432/EEC and national legislation. The Austrian bovine stocks have also been officially recognised as being free from Bovine Herpes Virus 1 in 2019.


    Professional information

    Bovine Herpes Virus 1 (BoHV-1) and its various subtypes are double-stranded DNA viruses and belongs to the Herpesviridae family, which is usually introduced into BHV-1-free farms by purchasing animals that are clinically healthy but are latent carriers of the virus or are in the incubation phase. The spread of the disease is promoted by intensive animal movements, e.g. by livestock traders and livestock markets, and is mainly spread in the herd through direct contact with animals, e.g. via tear and nose secretion containing the pathogen (droplet infection), via the mucous membranes of the genital tract, but also via faeces. Indirect transmission through persons and contaminated clothing, through insufficiently cleaned, contaminated transport vehicles, equipment (stable utensils) and instruments (e.g. hypodermic needles) is also possible. Infected animals remain carriers of the virus for life. The virus can be shed again in phases after a stressful situation (e.g. change of feed, birth, transport, stress). Nasal virus shedding lasts up to 2 weeks. Male animals play an important role in the spread of IBR/IPV/IBP (sending of infected semen). The affected cattle show serologically detectable antibodies 7-14 days after infection. Maternal antibodies are transmitted to the calves via colostrum, which provides them with biological protection against clinical disease. In most cases they are detectable up to 9 months, in a few cases even longer. Small ruminants can become infected, shed the virus, but do not show any symptoms of the disease. Wild ruminants form a virus reservoir in BHV-1 areas.


    From the clinical picture, infection with BHV-1 appears in two forms, the symptoms of the disease vary depending on the age of the infected animals:

    IBR = respiratory form: Fatigue, anorexia, fever (up to 42 °C), nasal discharge, hyperemia of the nasal and floppy mucosa ("red nose symptom"), conjunctivitis, cough, dyspnoea, miscarriage, fattening animals show reduced fattening performance. Lactating animals show a strong decrease in milk yield already at the beginning of the disease. In calves, IBR occurs mainly as a febrile general disease with a predominance of respiratory symptoms and often diarrhoea. The mortality rate is significantly higher than in adult animals.

    IPV / IBP = genital form (usually restricted to the vaginal and preputial mucosa): fatigue, inability to eat, fever (up to 42 °C), swollen and oedematous labia, hyperemic mucosa (atrium, vagina, penis), vesicles on the mucosa, abortion, orchitis, endometritis.

    Laboratory diagnostics

    Sample material for indirect detection (ELISA, serum neutralisation test):

    • Whole blood or serum without anticoagulants (not frozen, filling quantity > 7ml)
    • Tank milk or individual milk

    Sample material for direct detection (PCR, virus cultivation)

    • Nose swab, eye swab, genital swab
    • Head including tonsils and larynx
    • Oesophagus 20 cm

    altered organs:

    • fist-sized lung
    • Lymph nodes
    • Uterus, ovaries
    • Organs of the fetus and placenta

    Contact, forms

    Institute of Veterinary Medicine Mödling, National Reference Laboratory for IBR/IPV/IBP

    Robert Koch-Gasse 17
    2340 Mödling

    Phone: +43 50 555-38112
    Fax: +43 50 555 38529



    Institute of Veterinary Medicine Linz

    Wieningerstraße 8
    4020 Linz

    Telephone: +43 50 555-45111
    Fax: +43 50 555-45111



    Institute for Veterinary Medicine Innsbruck

    Technikerstraße 70
    6020 Innsbruck

    Telephone: +43 50 555-71111
    Fax: +43 50555-71333


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