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

J. Kelly Rhodes DVM, MS, DACVPM1,2, Kevin D. Pelzer DVM, MPVM, DACVPM3, and Yvette J. Johnson DVM, PhD4
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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, College Park, MD 20742.
  • | 2 Present address is Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center, 8075 Greenmead Dr, College Park, MD 20742.
  • | 3 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, VA 24061.
  • | 4 Department of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, College Park, MD 20742.

Abstract

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. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:346–352)

Abstract

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. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:346–352)