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Molecular investigation of bovine viral diarrhea virus infection in yaks (Bos gruniens) from Qinghai, China

Xiaowei Gong1, Lihong Liu2, Fuying Zheng1, Qiwei Chen1, Zhaocai Li1, Xiaoan Cao1, Hong Yin1, Jizhang Zhou1* and Xuepeng Cai1*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Veterinary Etiological Biology, Key Laboratory of Veterinary Public Health of Ministry of Agriculture, Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, No. 1 Xujiaping, Chengguan, Lanzhou 730046, People’s Republic of China

2 Department of Virology, Immunobiology and Parasitology, National Veterinary Institute, 75189 Uppsala, Sweden

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Virology Journal 2014, 11:29  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-11-29

Published: 14 February 2014



Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is a pestivirus which infects both domestic animals and wildlife species worldwide. In China, cattle are often infected with BVDV of different genotypes, but there is very limited knowledge regarding BVDV infection in Chinese yaks and the genetic diversity of the virus. The objectives of this study were to detect viral infection in yaks in Qinghai, China and to determine the genotypes of BVDV based on analysis of the 5′untranslated region (5′UTR) and N-terminal protease (Npro) region.


Between 2010 and 2012, 407 blood samples were collected from yaks with or without clinical signs in six counties of Qinghai Province. Ninety-eight samples (24%) were found to be positive by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) targeting a conserved region of BVDV-1 and BVDV-2. The nucleotide sequences of the 5′UTR and complete Npro region were determined for 16 positive samples. Phylogenetic reconstructions demonstrated that all 16 samples belong to subgenotypes BVDV-1b, BVDV-1d and BVDV-1q.


This study provides, for the first time, molecular evidence for BVDV infection in yaks in Qinghai involving multiple subgenotypes of BVDV-1. This may have occurred under three possible scenarios: interspecies transmission, natural infection, and the use of vaccines contaminated with BVDV. The results have important implications for yak production and management in China, and specifically indicate that unscientific vaccination practices should be stopped and bio-security increased.

Bovine viral diarrhea virus; Yak; 5′UTR; Npro; Phylogeny