MILK antibody testing has played a significant role in cattle disease control and eradication programmes in many countries, particularly in mainland Europe and Scandinavia, since the mid-1980s. In Britain, bulk milk antibody testing is an integral part of the statutory control programmes for brucellosis and enzootic bovine leukosis. It is also used by veterinary diagnostic laboratories, and within formal cattle health schemes, for measuring bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus (IBRV)/bovine herpesvirus 1 and Leptospira hardjo infections. A bulk tank antibody test for Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (Johne's disease) was used for a recent prevalence study in Denmark, but proved unreliable. Milk antibody testing has, however, been successfully developed for several other important cattle infections including salmonella, respiratory syncytial virus and coronavirus. In 1997, the VLA introduced bulk milk antibody testing for BVDV, IBRV and L hardjo in its Regional Laboratories. This article discusses the use of these tests, with particular emphasis on practical and cost-effective approaches.
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