To ascertain the virulence of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) genotype II, isolate NY-93 was inoculated intranasally into 3 calves, 2 of which were treated with a synthetic glucocorticoid prior to and after virus inoculation. Anorexia, fever (up to 42 C), dyspnea, and hemorrhagic diarrhea developed 6 days after intranasal inoculation with BVDV NY-93. The condition of all calves deteriorated further until the end of the study on day 14 postinoculation. The most significant postmortem macroscopic changes in all calves were limited to the gastrointestinal tract and consisted of moderate to severe congestion of the mucosa with multifocal hemorrhages. Microscopic lesions found in the gastrointestinal tract were similar to those observed in mucosal disease, including degeneration and necrosis of crypt epithelium and necrosis of lymphoid tissue throughout the ileum, colon, and rectum. The basal stratum of the epithelium of tongue, esophagus, and rumen had scattered individual necrotic cells. Spleen and lymph nodes had lymphocytolysis and severe lymphoid depletion. Severe acute fibrinous bronchopneumonia was present in dexamethasone-treated calves. Abundant viral antigen was detected by immunohistochemistry in the squamous epithelium of tongue, esophagus, and forestomachs. BVDV antigen was prominent in cells of the media of small arteries and endothelial cells. The presence of infectious virus in tissues correlated with an absence of circulating neutralizing antibodies. These findings highlight the potential of BVDV genotype II to cause severe disease in normal and stressed cattle.
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