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Leukemia Virus Found in All Greek Yogurt

"The world is quickly bored by the recital of misfortune, and willing avoids the sight of distress."
- W. Somerset Maugham

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Warning: today's Notmilk column might bore the pus out of dairy farmers and dairy lovers, who have heard this information many times before.

Greek Yogurt might not be nutritious, but it certainly is delicious, although something about it is suspicious. Got bovine leukemia virus?

Yesterday's Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association {2014 Apr 15;244(8), pages 914-22} included a study containing this conclusion by Michigan State University dairy researchers:

"The subclinical impact of bovine leukemia virus (BLV) on the sustainability of the US dairy industry is only now being fully recognized...Few US dairy producers know the prevalence of BLV-infected cattle in their herds or are aware of the insidious economic impact of BLV or the options for BLV control."

In 2007, the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) tested bulk tanks of milk from 534 dairy farms and found:

"Results showed that 83.9 percent of U.S. dairy operations were positive for BLV."

The April 8, 2013 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Science reported the result of a nationwide survey of Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) infection in dairy cows in Japan.

How many cows were tested?
20,835

How many cows tested positive for BLV?
7,334 (35.2 percent)

Scientist's conclusion:

"Our findings indicate that BLV is widespread among dairy and beef breeding cattle in Japan, with BLV seroprevalence approximately 10- and 4-fold higher respectively, than previously reported for 1980-1982 in Japan."

Twelve years ago, the February 25, 2002 issue of Hoard's Dairyman, The National Dairy Farm Magazine (Volume 147, number 4), contained a painful secret admission.

Ads are supposed to promote products, and I suppose this one did. It advertised a test for BLV which appeared on page 150. The ad showed cows in a field, and challenged readers in a bolded statement:

"You Can't Tell By Looking"

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

Ask yourself these rhetorical questions and keep track of how many you get wrong:

There are 100 cows in the field. You are told that 84 have leukemia. Would you drink milk that has been collected and pooled from these cows?

There are 10,000 dairy farms in your region. You learn that 8,390 of those herds have cows infected with leukemia. Would you eat just one bite of pizza made from mozzarella cheese made from milk from these herds?

You visit a website (emilyproject.org) 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 Ben and Jerry's Luscious Leukemia?

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 ten pounds of milk are required to produce one pound of hard cheese, would you be apt to purchase and devour a wedge of Wisconsin's finest cheddar?

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 leukemia-free burgers? (They might cost extra!)

A veterinarian (Margo Roman, DVM) writes on her website (mashvet.com), "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?

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."

Will you request cream cheese or butter on your next bagel?

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"Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune."
- William James

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Robert Cohen
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