Understanding Bovine Ephemeral Fever (Three-day Sickness) in Cattle and Water Buffalo

Understanding Bovine Ephemeral Fever (Three-day Sickness) in Cattle and Water Buffalo

Understanding Bovine Ephemeral Fever (Three-day Sickness)


Bovine ephemeral fever, also known as three-day sickness, is an arthropod-borne viral disease affecting cattle and water buffalo. This article delves into its etiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment, and control strategies.

Etiology and Epidemiology

Bovine ephemeral fever is caused by the Bovine Ephemeral Fever virus (BEFV), a member of the Ephemerovirus genus in the Rhabdoviridae family. It is transmitted by flying, biting insects and is prevalent in regions like Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and Asia. While primarily affecting cattle and water buffalo, inapparent infections have been observed in various other animal species.

Clinical Findings

Clinical signs of bovine ephemeral fever include biphasic to polyphasic fever, shivering, inappetence, nasal discharge, drooling, and lameness. Affected animals may become recumbent and paralyzed, with a sudden decrease in milk yield noted in dairy cows. Lesions commonly involve polyserositis, polysynovitis, and focal necrosis of muscles.


Diagnosis is mainly based on clinical signs during epidemics. Laboratory confirmation involves PCR identification of the virus and serologic testing, including serum neutralization. Timely diagnosis is crucial for effective management.

Treatment and Control

Treatment focuses on NSAIDs for pain relief and supportive care, especially for recumbent cows. Vaccines are available but vary in effectiveness. Inactivated vaccines may require multiple doses for optimal protection. Vector control measures and good herd management also play a role in disease control.


Bovine ephemeral fever poses significant challenges to cattle and water buffalo health, impacting milk production and overall well-being. A multidimensional approach involving diagnosis, treatment, vaccination, and vector control is essential for effective disease management and prevention.

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Key Points

  • Bovine ephemeral fever is caused by BEFV and transmitted by flying, biting insects.
  • NSAIDs are effective for relieving clinical signs and pain.
  • Vaccines vary in effectiveness and may require multiple doses for protection.
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