Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR)

Part of: AFBI Cattle Health Scheme

Area of Expertise:

IBR programmes within AFBI Cattle Health Scheme


  • Caused by Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus (IBRV)


  • Pneumonia, which can be particularly severe in housed beef cattle
  • Pneumonia and reduced milk yields in dairy herds
  • Abortions may also occur.
  • Some strains cause only mild symptoms.
  • Recovered cattle remain carriers and can excrete virus when when stressed.

Introduction and spread

  • Purchase of carrier animals including bulls is the main source of new infections
  • Spread is mainly by the respiratory route


  • Losses due to disease
  • Recovered (carrier) bulls are excluded from AI centres as they may shed virus in their semen
  • Barrier to the export of live cattle to other regions or countries within Europe, where the disease has already been eradicated.

Control programme

  • Testing programme using blood and milk samples to identify and remove carrier cattle.
    Screening and eradication
  • Appropriate biosecurity to avoid reintroduction.
  • Vaccination is an effective means of control, but does not stop carrier animals shedding virus
  • Marker vaccines can be used as part of an eradication program.
  • Marker vaccines allow vaccinated and naturally infected cattle to be distinguished (this is not possible with conventional vaccines).