Economic implications of bovine leukemia virus infection in mid-Atlantic dairy herds

J. Kelly Rhodes, Kevin D. Pelzer, Yvette J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective - To determine the baseline costs of bovine leukemia virus (BLV) infection, including costs of clinical disease and subclinical infection, in a dairy herd representative of the mid-Atlantic region and compare these costs with the cost of a test-and-manage BLV control program. Design - Stochastic spreadsheet model. Sample Population - A commercial Holstein dairy herd with 100 milking cows. Procedures - A spreadsheet model was developed. The overall cost of infection included the cost of clinical disease (ie, lymphosarcoma [LS]) and the effects of subclinical infection on milk production and premature culling. Model input values and distributions were designed to reflect economic conditions in the mid-Atlantic region. Relative costs of infection and control were calculated for infection prevalences of 20, 50, and 80%. Results - Estimated mean cost to the producer per case of LS was $412; for a herd with a 50% prevalence of BLV infection, annual incidence of LS was 0.66. Mean annual cost of subclinical infection at a 50% prevalence of infection was $6,406. Mean annual cost of a test-and-manage control program was $1,765. The cost of clinical disease and subclinical infection varied substantially with the prevalence of infection, whereas the cost of control varied with herd size. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Results suggested that a basic BLV control program may be economically beneficial in herds in which the prevalence of BLV infection is ≥ 12.5%. Farm-specific considerations may factor prominently when weighing the costs and benefits of an individual BLV control program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-352
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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