New vaccine research aims to combat prevalent bovine disease

A vaccine to prevent an infectious disease that costs New Zealand cattle farmers more than $190 million each year could radically improve the health of our cows and boost on-farm productivity, Associate Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is backing a project that aims to develop a modified live virus vaccine against Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD). The project will focus on developing an effective immunogen that is safe to use on New Zealand farms.

“Cattle infected with BVD suffer a range of symptoms, including reproductive losses, reduced growth rates and lowered milk production, with the disease ultimately leading to their death,” Mr Hoggard says.  

This prevalent disease impacts around 80 per cent of New Zealand’s dairy and beef herds and costs our farmers more than $150 million every year in direct production losses and $40 million in ongoing expenses from BVD control.”

New Zealand currently has three registered vaccines for BVD, with an efficacy rate of about 60 to 65 per cent. The current vaccines use the inactivated BVD virus as the immunogen. They require a two-dose initial vaccination followed by annual revaccination.

“This leaves significant room for improvement. The existing vaccines are all from overseas, so this will be the first ever project to develop a vaccine specific to New Zealand strains of BVD.

“This is an opportunity for Kiwi ingenuity to shine and help protect our dairy and beef herds”.

The new vaccine aims to stimulate a higher and faster immune response using a modified live virus vaccine and will only require a single dose. 


 Media contact: Rebecca Flannery +64 27 345 4443


Notes to editors: 

The project will focus on the first three phases of vaccine development – from the discovery, with support from Massey University, of a New Zealand genotype that will serve as vaccine candidates, through to process development, clinical trials, and manufacturing development. The project will be led by John Moffat working with AgriHealth; South Pacific Sera Limited, with MPI investing $330,000 and AgriHealth NZ Limited contributing $600,000