Veterinarians at the Nebraska Veterinary Laboratory have found that a skin biopsy can detect animals persistently infected with Bovine Viral Diarrhea, or BVD. Persistently infected (PI) animals are born with the virus and shed it throughout their lifetimes, infecting herdmates.

Traditionally, a blood sample is taken from suspected animals for testing, but the skin sample is easier to collect. Most veterinarians take a small piece of skin from the ear with an ear notcher. “It’s a lot easier to get a skin biopsy than to bleed animals individually,” says John Ellis, a veterinarian at the University of Saskatchewan.

Detecting PI animals in your herd and the animals you purchase with either a blood or skin test can help you limit problems with BVD.