Enzootic bovine leukosis is a viral cattle disease.

First published:
19 November 2018
Last updated:

The disease is no longer present in Great Britain and cannot pass to humans.

Suspicion and confirmation

Contact your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office immediately on 0300 303 8268, if you suspect enzootic bovine leukosis.

APHA vets will investigate suspected cases.

Clinical signs

Most infected cattle will show no, or very limited, signs of the disease. Clinical signs, if present, depend on the organs affected.

  • tumours in many parts of the body both internally and externally
  • progressive loss of condition
  • weakness
  • anaemia
  • anorexia
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • partial paralysis of the hind legs

Clinical signs are usually seen in cattle between 4 and 8 years of age and rarely in animals under 2 years old.

Where an abattoir post mortem inspection reveals tumours in a carcass, it is detained. The Food Standard Agency (FSA) then take appropriate samples.

Transmission, prevention and treatment

It is transmitted from mother to calf and from cow to cow, causing leukaemia and multiple tumours.

You cannot treat enzootic bovine leukosis of cattle. You must slaughter all infected cattle and those exposed to infection.