The objective of this study was to identify associations between herd management practices and the incidence rate of bovine leukemia virus (BLV) infections in Michigan dairy herds. Previous management risk factor studies were of antibody prevalence rather than the rate of recent infections. Milk samples were collected from cohorts of cows on 112 Michigan dairy herds and tested for BLV using an antibody capture ELISA (n = 3849 cows). Cows were subsequently followed for an average of 21 months. Cows negative for anti-BLV antibodies and still present in their respective herds were retested by the same antibody capture ELISA to estimate within-herd incidence rates. The overall crude incidence rate was 1.46 infections per 100 cow-months at risk for the 1314 retested cows in 107 herds. The average within-herd incidence rate was 2.28 infections per 100 cow-months (range: 0 to 9.76 infections per 100 cow-months). A negative binomial regression model was used to identify herd management practices associated with the within-herd incidence rate. Results of the final multivariable model identified higher herd prevalence, milking frequency, needle reuse, as well as housing post-parturient cows separately, to be associated with increased incidence rate. Utilization of sand bedding for the lactating herd was found to be associated with decreased incidence rates. Results of this study suggest potential routes of BLV transmission which should be further investigated as disease control targets in ongoing control programs.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.