Mucosal Disease

These information sheets are provided for your interest. They should not replace veterinary advice from your veterinary surgeon.

Whilst every effort is taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information provided, your specific circumstances must be discussed before advice can be given.

Mucosal disease is a severe, sometimes fatal, form of bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV). The form of BVDV that causes persistent infection in calves is the non-cytopathic form, which causes less cellular destruction and pathology to the animal. The immunity of persistently infected animals is lowered, and if the animal becomes concurrently infected with the cytopathic form of the virus then mucosal disease may result. Mucosal disease usually affects animals aged 6-18 months, and is usually rapid in onset although chronic debilitating forms can occur.

Clinical Signs

  • Erosions and ulcers in the mouth and intestinal tract
  • Erosions around the coronary band and interdigital space leading to lameness
  • Total anorexia and wasting
  • Death within 2 months in some cases
  • Dermatitis due to hyperkeratosis (rapid skin cell production and turnover) due to attempts to heal ulcers and erosions


  • Presumptive based on clinical examination and history
  • Definitive diagnosis requires virus isolation on two occasions, three weeks apart


  • Most cases are fatal, so euthanasia may be preferred
  • Remove persistently infected animals from the herd – sell to slaughter
  • Prognosis is poor