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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 11 January 2004 Issue

Robert Cohen On Mad Cow Disease

Today's column, presented in the form of ten questions, will make Mad Cow Disease seem like the common cold in comparison.

Question #1

You are reading an issue of Hoard's Dairyman, the "National Dairy Farm Magazine." There is an ad
promoting a test for bovine leukemia. The ad reads:

"You Can't Tell By Looking"

The text of the ad reveals that "most dairy herds are
affected by bovine leukemia virus."

Do you omit cheese from your diet?

Question #2

There is one cow in your field. You are told that she has
leukemia. Would you drink her body fluids or eat her meat?

Question #3

There are 100 cows in the field. You are told that 43 have
leukemia. Would you drink milk that has been collected and
pooled from these cows?

Question #4

There are 10,000 dairy farms in your region. You learn that
8,900 of those herds have cows infected with leukemia.
Would you drink even one glass of milk purchased from your
local supermarket?

Question #5

You visit a website ( and find a study, the
title of which is, "Milk of Dairy Cows Frequently Contains a
Leukemogenic Virus." Would you ever again eat a cup of yogurt?

Question #6

You have just read Gertrude Buehring's study in the December 27, 2003 issue of the Journal of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, and learned that 176 of 237 humans tested positive for bovine leukemia virus antibodies. Knowing that twelve pounds of milk are required to produce one pound of ice cream, and having answered questions 1-5 in the negative, would you be apt to purchase and devour a pint of Ben & Jerry's Lucious Leukemia?

Question #7

You've come across an article in the July, 2003 issue of
The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
(AVMA) and read that nearly five out of every ten cows in
America are infected with leukemia. This year, the Journal
of Dairy Science (Vol. 86:2826-2838)reported that just
one out of every hundred cows exhibit clinical signs
of leukemia, although 43 out of 100 are so affected.
The one is culled from the herd and sent to slaughter.
The other 42 continue to be milked.

Will you ever again enjoy a milkshake with a Big Mac?
When given the choice of "Having it your way at B.K.,
will you ask for the leukemia-free burger? (They might
cost extra!)

Question #8

A veterinarian (Margo Roman, DVM) writes on her website
(, "Bovine Leukemia Virus is a transmissible
virus between cows and spread to calves through milk,
blood, body fluids and insect vectors. It is found in
a large percentage of cattle in the USA. Bovine Leukemia
has been found in breast tissue in women." Do you ask for
whipped cream on your next cup of Starbucks venti latte?

Question #9

The Notmilkman informs you that only one out of 20 cows
actually develops signs of clinical leukosis, and that
most affected cattle appear to be healthy, but viral
infections can be found in the meat and milk of nearly
half of all dairy cows. He references page 1105 in the
December 27, 2003 issue of Aids Research and Human
Retroviruses, Volume 19, Number 12. Do you ever eat
mozzarella cheese again?

Question #10

You learn that breast cancers may grow as a result of
exposure to bovine leukemia virus (BLV). Buehner, et. al,
have determined:

"We detected BLV proteins and DNA in human breast tissues removed by surgery, which suggests these tissues were infected by BLV."

What advice do you give to mom, sister, and daughter?
Do you send each a copy of this column?

Robert Cohen


Return to Animals in Print 11 January 2004 Issue

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