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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Ruminant Diseases and Immunology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #215667

Title: Reproductive disease associated with inoculation of pregnant white-tailed deer with bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV)

item Ridpath, Julia
item Neill, John
item Palmer, Mitchell

Submitted to: American Journal of Veterinary Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/12/2008
Publication Date: 12/1/2008
Citation: Ridpath, J.F., Driskell, E.A., Chase, C.C., Neill, J.D., Palmer, M.V., Brodersen, B.W. 2008. Reproductive Tract Disease Associated with Inoculation of Pregnant White-Tailed Deer with Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 69(12):1630-1636.

Interpretive Summary: Previously it has been shown that bovine viral diarrhea viruses (BVDV) will infect white-tailed deer in addition to domestic cattle. Infection of cattle with BVDV can have a number of negative results including death of the fetus and the birth of animals who are persistently infected (PI) with BVDV. PI cattle constantly shed virus and can infect numerous animals over their live span. The purpose of this study was to determine if BVDV infection of pregnant white-tailed deer had outcomes similar to BVDV infection of cattle. We found that the reproductive disease resulting from BVDV infection of pregnant deer was very similar to BVDV reproductive disease in cattle. One of the outcomes we observed was the birth of persistently infected white-tailed deer fawns. This has practical significance in that wild white-tailed deer herds are frequently in contact with domestic cattle. If white-tailed deer can be persistently infected with BVDV, then they can introduce BVDV into domestic cattle herds. This in turn suggests that any BVDV control program in cattle must take into account possible contact with PI white tailed deer.

Technical Abstract: The purpose was to study the effects of BVDV infection in pregnant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). To this end 11 white-tailed deer was purchased and housed in BSL2 containment. Pregnancy status was confirmed and the calculated stage of pregnancy was based on date of contact with buck. Does were inoculated with one of two BVDV previously recovered from wild white-tailed deer. Levels of BVDV neutralizing serum antibodies were determined prior to inoculation and 21 or 35 days post inoculation. Two of the does had serum antibody titers against BVDV (>512) prior to inoculation, the remaining 9 does were seronegative. Both seropositive animals gave birth to normal fawns. Of the remaining 9 seronegative animals, one was not pregnant at the start of the study, four died (death between 8 to 79 days post inoculation), one apparently readsorbed its fetus, two aborted and one gave birth to two probable PI fawns. BVDV was isolated from fetuses, maternal tissues and PI fawns. Ear notches of PI fawns were positive by ACE. The clinical relevance of this study is that BVDV associated reproductive disease in white-tailed deer and cattle is similar. Further, diagnostic methods developed for cattle, including virus isolation and detection of BVDV antigen or genomic material, also work in white tail deer. Finally, the presence of neutralizing antibody titers in pregnant white-tailed deer appears to protect against BVDV infection in fawns.