Publication - Advice and guidance

Enzootic bovine leukosis: how to spot and report the disease

Published: 31 Oct 2018

Advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of this infectious disease.    

Published:
31 Oct 2018
Enzootic bovine leukosis: how to spot and report the disease

Enzootic bovine leukosis affects cattle. It does not affect humans.

Latest situation: it was last present in Great Britain in 1996.

Clinical signs

Most infected cattle will show no sign of the disease, but clinical signs can include:

  • tumours in many parts of the body, which can appear as bumps in the skin
  • problems digesting food and loss of appetite and weight
  • weakness, fever and abnormal breathing
  • fall in milk production
  • bulging eyes
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • partial paralysis of the hind legs

Internal tumours may only become apparent once cattle have been killed and butchered, so abattoir workers should look out for them.

If tumours are spotted on a carcass, the abattoir must keep the carcass on site and report it to the APHA so it can be examined.

If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence. 

How enzootic bovine leukosis is spread

The disease can be spread:

  • from cows to baby calves during pregnancy or when suckling
  • between animals in close contact
  • through infected blood on surgical equipment and gloves

Human health implications

There are no human health implications because the disease is not zoonotic.

How to control the disease

An outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency framework for exotic notifiable animal diseases.

Legislation

The Enzootic Bovine Leukosis (Scotland) Regulations 2000 implement measures for the eradication of leukosis in EU Council Directive 77/391.

Biosecurity

Biosecurity is about being aware of the ways disease can spread and taking every practical measure to minimise the risk of disease spreading. The advice details practical things you can do on your farm to help prevent the introduction and spread of enzootic bovine leukosis to and from your animals.

Contact

If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence.