Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/8/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Using newly reformatted competitive ELISA, we examined over a thousand sera for the antibody against malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) viruses from seven species of free-ranging animals in Alaska. These animals tested included 104 muskox, 222 Dall sheep, 51 elk, 197 bison, 232 caribou, 49 Sitka black-tailed deer and 219 moose. Very high antibody prevalence (over 95%) was observed in muskox and Dall sheep, suggesting that these animals in Alaska are endemically infected with MCF viruses. The antibody prevalence in Alaska bison was similar to the prevalence reported for captive bison in other regions of North America. Lower antibody prevalence was found in caribou, Sitka black-tailed deer and moose, suggesting that these free-ranging ruminants in Alaska could also be subclinically infected with the viruses. The significance of these findings for the health of free-ranging animals in Alaska is unknown.
Technical Abstract: Blood samples were collected from seven species of free-ranging ungulates in Alaska. Sera were tested for evidence of exposure to malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) viruses by means of a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Antibody prevalences were as follows: muskox (Ovibos moschatus) 100 positive samples of 104 tested (96%); Dall sheep (Ovis dalli) 212 of 222 (95%); elk (Cervus elaphus) 14 of 51 (27%); bison (Bison bison) 34 of 197 (17%); caribou (Rangifer tarandus) 9 of 232 (4%); Sitka blacktail deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) 1 of 49 (2%); and moose (Alces alces) 3 of 219 (1%). Antibody prevalence for one population of elk in the southwestern portion of the state was 14 of 40 (35%). Prevalence in another population from the southeastern portion of the state was 0 of 11 (0%). Antibody prevalence in a bison population from the Interior was stable over a 5-year period. These results indicate that Dall sheep and muskox in Alaska are endemically infected with MCF viruses. Lower antibody prevalences in all other species suggest that these free-ranging ruminants in Alaska could also be latently or subclinically infected with the viruses. The significance of these findings for the health of free-ranging ungulates in Alaska is unknown.