Leukemia - the incurable disease of cows


Cow leukemia is a very complex and incurable infectious disease, which has a tumor nature and is associated with the growth of cells of the blood-forming organs. Find out more with us.

What kind of disease and how does it occur?

Leukemia, as we have said, is an infectious disease, it is caused by a special virus - the leukemia virus. Since the disease is infectious, then it spreads from animals infected with these viruses. In this case, the infection occurs prenatally through the gametes, and through milk and contact with a sick animal.

To date, there are two known forms of leukemia - sporadic and enzootic. In this case, the first form is extremely rare and most often affects young cattle up to 3 years. The second form is expressed in adult cows and is characterized by a long latent period.

Leukemia is difficult and long-term, as many tumor diseases in the initial stages are almost asymptomatic. As a result of infection, separate tumor masses and lymph nodes are formed in various tissues and organs. Sick animals are detected by analyzing the reaction to leukemia, as well as by studying the composition of the blood, as the hematopoietic system is affected first.


In the early stages of development, there are no clinical signs of the disease. Cows during this period normally produce offspring, show stable productivity, do not reduce weight. However, infected animals carry the virus and are dangerous to others.

In a latent form, leukemia can last for years, so it often does not have time to develop into a clinical form in a lifetime. It manifests itself only in weak, genetically predisposed or sick animals. The offspring of carriers born healthy, but genetically already predisposed to the development of the disease.

At the terminal stage of the disease, symptoms such as an increase in lymph nodes in various parts of the body, exhaustion, and a sharp decrease in productivity occur. To date, there are no resistant breeds of cows for this disease.

Can I drink milk?

When a leukemia is detected in a cow, its milk cannot be eaten, especially for children. The fact is that, despite boiling, pasteurization and further death of the virus, many carcinogenic substances are formed in the body of a sick animal. They are not destroyed by anything and can trigger the development of cancer in humans. And although still the human leukemia virus infection in humans from cows has not been proven, yet we cannot speak about the absence of some mutations.


As we have said, leukemia causes a virus. It can be transmitted, both through direct contact with sick animals, as well as through inventory, and with the help of blood-sucking parasites (ticks, mosquitoes, gadflies). Bulls infect cows through sperm, and they, in turn, transmit the virus to the fetus.

In general, infection of livestock can occur by the alimentary method, airborne droplets and intrauterine devices. The main reason for the infection of domestic cows is the purchase of livestock in disadvantaged farms, as well as the neglect of measures to combat the disease, that is, the late diagnosis.

Is it possible to cure the disease?

The treatment of leukemia is not performed, therefore all sick animals are slaughtered. However, it is worth talking about the measures of prevention of illness. The basic rule is a timely study of livestock workers in the private sector, an animal blood test. For example, in May 1999, official rules on leukemia control were approved.

Woman conducting laboratory analysis for leukemia

In these rules are clearly spelled out all the methods of disease prevention, both in large farms and at home.

  • Buy young animals and adults only in proven farms.
  • Do not allow infected animals to stay together with healthy ones.
  • At the first detection of leukemia reject livestock.
  • Use modern vaccines.
  • Time to diagnose.
  • Exclusion of insemination of sick heifers.
  • Compliance with the rules of antiseptics.
  • Research and laboratory analysis of semen bulls when buying sperm.
  • Compliance with quarantine conditions for newly acquired animals.




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