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Determine bovine leukemia virus (BLV) seroprevalence of adult female cattle in Eastern Kansas beef herds and the proviral load (PVL) of those cattle found to be ELISA positive.


Convenience sample of 2,845 cows from 44 beef herds.


BLV serostatus was determined using an ELISA antibody test (gp-51; IDEXX). BLV quantitative PCR (qPCR) status and PVL were determined utilizing a qPCR test (SS1 qPCR test; CentralStar Laboratories). The association of age, herd size, and body condition score (BCS) category on the probability of being BLV positive was evaluated with a multiple variable logistic regression analysis that used BLV status as a binary outcome, herd nested within ranch as a random effect, and BCS, herd size, and age category as fixed effects.


Forty-two of 44 herds had at least 1 BLV ELISA-positive cow (95.5% herd seroprevalence). Overall, 1,564 of the 2,845 cows were BLV ELISA positive (55.0% individual animal prevalence). No association between BLV ELISA status and herd size or BCS was identified. When evaluated by age, the model-adjusted probability of being BLV ELISA positive was lowest for heifers (1 year of age, first parity) and increased until 5 to 6 years of age. Of the 1,564 ELISA-positive animals, 838 were qPCR positive (53.6%). The model-adjusted probability of being qPCR positive was not associated with age, herd size, or BCS category.


This study indicated that BLV-seropositive status both as a herd classification and individual animal classification was very common in this population. Because the percentage of BLV-seropositive cows varied between herds and by age, this study provides evidence that it is essential for investigators to control for herd and age in any analysis of the association of BLV serostatus and health and production outcomes of interest. Some BLV ELSIA-seropositive cows were classified as BLV negative by qPCR, and risk factors may differ between classification status by ELISA and qPCR.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research