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Leukemia. 1988 Feb;2(2):103-7.

Experimental transmission of enzootic bovine leukosis to sheep: latency period of the tumoral disease.

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  • 1National Institute for Veterinary Research, Brussels, Belgium.


In the field of viral oncogenesis the latency period is the interval between detectable establishment of infection and appearance of a tumor. Between 1969 and 1985, a total of 60 sheep died with lymphosarcoma. They were inoculated with BLV-positive blood from various donor cows, by various routes, at various ages, etc. A statistical analysis was performed trying to find a correlation between the length of the latency period and, on the other hand, one or more factors, such as sex, family lineage, identity of the dam, age at inoculation, route of inoculation, or origin of the inoculum. None of the above mentioned parameters has a significant effect on the length of the latency period. In two series of sheep inoculated with decreasing number of lymphocytes from BLV-positive donor cows, hematological disorders and tumors appeared at first in recipient animals inoculated with the higher doses of infectious blood. Thus, the inoculated dose has an effect upon the length of the latency period; the higher the dose inoculated, the shorter the latency period. This finding suggests an explanation to the natural occurrence of multiple case herds as opposed to no-tumor case herds. A multiple case herd fulfills two conditions: the presence of a good donor and an efficient route of transmission allowing the transfer to the recipient of the optimal amount of infected blood.

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