Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Animal Disease Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #294651

Title: Malignant catarrhal fever: inching towards understanding

item Li, Hong
item CUNHA, CRISTINA - Washington State University
item Taus, Naomi
item Knowles Jr, Donald

Submitted to: Annual Review of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2013
Publication Date: 2/15/2014
Citation: Li, H., Cunha, C.W., Taus, N.S., Knowles Jr, D.P. 2014. Malignant catarrhal fever: inching towards understanding. Annual Review of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences. 2:209-33.

Interpretive Summary: Although malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) has a long history in veterinary medicine, it remains one of the most intriguing diseases for veterinarians and biomedical researchers, since a great deal remains unknown about the disease complex and the virus-host relationship. This review focuses on the current understanding of MCF, including its etiological agents, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and control strategies, especially emphasizing the wildebeest-associated and sheep-associated MCF, the two major forms of disease. Knowledge gained over many years of study has led to implementation of more effective strategies to protect animals from MCF and has laid a solid foundation for developing vaccines against this disease. Increased understanding of the causative agents, virus-host interactions and pathogenesis has led to identification of knowledge gaps that still need to be addressed to further mitigate losses due to this globally important disease.

Technical Abstract: Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is an often lethal infection of many species in the order Artiodactyla, caused by members of the MCF virus group within Gammaherpesvirinae. MCF is a worldwide problem and has a significant economic impact on highly disease-susceptible hosts, such as cattle, bison and deer. Several epidemiologic forms of MCF, defined by the reservoir ruminant species from which the causative virus arises, are recognized. Wildebeest-associated MCF (WA-MCF) and sheep-associated MCF (SA-MCF) are the most prevalent and well-studied forms of the disease. Historical understanding of MCF is largely based on WA-MCF, in which the causative virus can be propagated in vitro. Characterization of SA-MCF has been constrained because the causative agent has never been successfully propagated in vitro. Development of molecular tools has enabled more definitive studies on SA-MCF. The current understanding of MCF including its etiological agents, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and prevention is the subject of the present review.