Positive Enzootic Bovine Leukosis Blood Test Results

UK - Calves on three different farms intended for artificial insemination centres or export have tested positive for antibodies to Enzootic Bovine Leukosis (EBL).
calendar icon 28 January 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Investigations indicate that these positive blood test results were not the result of EBL infection but were caused by the calves being fed ‘Calf’s Choice Total’, a colostrum substitute imported from Canada.

EBL is a notifiable disease of cattle and is not present in the UK. Positive blood test results for EBL trigger official disease control restrictions and investigations, hence the need to alert farmers. This issue is particularly relevant for herds producing calves for artificial insemination centres or export, or other herds where calves may have blood samples collected for EBL testing.

‘Calf’s Choice Total’ is made in Canada from natural cow colostrum and is reported to contain antibodies to the EBL virus. Canada is not EBL-free.

Investigations have not identified any direct risk to animal health associated with the use of ‘Calf’s Choice Total’. The product has been imported under regulations which require the product to be heat treated in a way which will readily inactivate the EBL virus.

However, use of this product, or equivalent products from countries where EBL is present, has implications for individual farms.

Any positive result to a blood test for EBL triggers disease control restrictions and investigations which are likely to prove inconvenient for affected premises with the possibility of consequential financial loss.

Initially, the entire herd would be placed under movement restrictions and some form of movement restrictions (usually limited to the groups of calves containing test positive animals) may continue for several months while further blood test results are monitored.

Defra is continuing to work with other agencies, and with the cooperation of the Canadian company concerned, to take this issue forward.

Calf’s Choice Total’ is made by The Saskatoon Colostrum Company Ltd and is marketed in the UK as a supplementary source of colostrum for neonatal calves.

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