Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/7/2006
Publication Date: 10/10/2006
Citation: Vikoren, T., Li, H., Lillehaug, A., Jonassen, C.M., Bockerman, I., Handeland, K. 2006. MALIGNANT CATARRHAL FEVER IN FREE-RANGING CERVIDS ASSOCIATED WITH OVHV-2 AND CPHV-2 DNA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 42(4):797-807. Interpretive Summary: Many species of deer are highly susceptible to malignant catarrhal fever (MCF), an often fatal disease caused by a group of herpesviruses. MCF has been reported in several cervid species that are prevalent in natural populations in Norway; however, confirmation of the disease in Norwegian free-ranging deer has not been reported. In this retrospective study, we histopathologically examined 18 free-ranging cervids (including 15 moose, two roe deer, and one red deer) diagnosed with MCF at the National Veterinary Institute, Oslo 1982-2005. Histopathology revealed typical MCF lesions in all 18 cases. Among 15 cases examined by PCR for evidence of MCF viral DNA, ovine herpesvirus 2 (sheep-associated MCF virus) DNA was detected in five moose, one roe deer and one red deer, while caprine herpesvirus 2 (goat-associated MCF virus) DNA was detected in two moose and one roe deer. In a survey of 1,000 free-ranging cervids for MCF-virus antibody by cELISA, we found that 5.2 % red deer; 3.6 % reindeer; 2.0 % roe deer; and 0.4 % moose were positive, respectively. It is concluded that sheep- and goat-associated MCF-viruses may cause serious disease in wild moose, roe deer, and red deer. The seropositive cervids most likely represent individuals infected with either OvHV-2 or CpHV-2, but may also reflect infections with other related MCF viruses.
Technical Abstract: Pathological lesions were summarized in 18 free-ranging cervids (15 moose (Alces alces), two roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), and one red deer (Cervus elaphus)) diagnosed with malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) after examination at the National Veterinary Institute, Oslo 1982-2005. Eye lesions (conjunctivitis, corneal opacity, fibrin clots in the anterior eye chamber) were the most frequent gross finding. Erosive-ulcerative mucosal lesions in the nose and mouth were also commonly found. Histopathology revealed a non-purulent vasculitis and perivasculitis in the central nervous system (CNS) typical of MCF in 16 of the cases. The diagnosis in the remaining two animals was based upon histological eye lesions consistent with MCF (CNS not available for examination). Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was run on samples from 15 individuals for evidence of MCF-virus DNA. PCR detected Ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) DNA in five moose, one roe deer, and one red deer, and Caprine herpesvirus-2 (CpHV-2) DNA in two moose and one roe deer. Sera from 1,000 free-ranging cervids were tested for specific antibodies to MCF-virus by competitive ELISA. The seroprevalences were: red deer 5.2 %; reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) 3.6 %; roe deer 2.0 %; and moose 0.4 % (n=250 for all four species). It is concluded that sheep and goat associated MCF-viruses may cause serious disease in wild moose, roe deer, and red deer. The seropositive cervids most likely represent individuals infected with either OvHV-2 or CpHV-2, but may also reflect infections with other related MCF-viruses.