Cows Tested for Bovine AIDS

Several hundred Cambodian cows are being studied for the presence of the bovine version of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, agriculture officials said Wednes­day.

The tests are being conducted by Meas Sothy, a Cambodian animal health researcher, for his doctorate in veterinary medicine in Japan.

Meas Sothy last week took blood samples from 400 cows in Kandal province and will test them in Japan for BIV, or Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus, said Sam Soeun, deputy director of the Agriculture Ministry’s animal health department.

So far, no cattle have been found to be BIV positive, but Sam Soeun said he believes some cows could have the disease. This is the first time Cambodian cows have been tested.

According to Meas Sothy, BIV was first discovered in 1972 in the US, but investigation into the disease waned until the 1980s when HIV and AIDS in humans brought attention back to the bovine disease. Since then, it has been identified in cows in Aus­tralia, Britain, New Zealand, France, Japan, Germany and Swi­tzerland.

A cow with BIV shows a mark­ed increase in white cells in its bloodstream as it tries to fight off the infection. It then becomes pro­­gressively thinner and weaker and develops lesions before finally dying. The disease, said Sam Soeun, can only be passed from cow to cow and not to humans.

Meanwhile, agriculture officials in Svay Rieng earlier this month said that more than 500 cows were sick and more than 20 had died from an illness that had left the cows weak and their legs swollen. Vitamins and vaccines have been sent to the province for the cattle, Sam Soeun said.


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