|FRONTOSO, R. - Istituto Zooprofilattico|
|AUTORINO, G.L. - Istituto Zooprofilattico|
|FRIEDRICH, K.G. - Fondazione Bioparco, Viale Del Giardino Zoologico|
|ELENI, C. - Istituto Zooprofilattico|
|COCUMELLI, C. - Istituto Zooprofilattico|
|DI CERBO, P. - Fondazione Bioparco, Viale Del Giardino Zoologico|
|MANNA, G. - Istituto Zooprofilattico|
|SCICLUNA, M.T - Istituto Zooprofilattico|
Submitted to: Transboundary and Emerging Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/4/2014
Publication Date: 1/19/2015
Citation: Frontoso, R., Autorino, G., Friedrich, K., Li, H., Eleni, C., Cocumelli, C., Di Cerbo, P., Manna, G., Scicluna, M. 2015. An acute multispecies episode of sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever in captive wild animals in an Italian zoo. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases. doi: 10.1111/tbed.12321.
Interpretive Summary: This report documented an outbreak of sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever (SA-MCF), a frequently fatal, herpesviral disease primarily affecting certain ruminant species, in multiple species in a zoological garden in Rome, Italy. A total of 11 animals belonging to four different species (banteng, Himalayan thar, Nile lechwe, and sika deer) died between July 2011 and October 2012, most presenting an acute form of MCF. The severe gross and histological lesions were consistent with the disease. The virological tests confirmed that all the animals had died of SA-MCF by ovine herpesvirus 2. The possible source of infection was due to arrival of sheep, including muflon in the zoo. This episode confirms the importance of biosecurity measures in zoos which house MCF susceptible species, especially these endangered of extinction.
Technical Abstract: In July 2011, in a zoological garden in Rome, Italy, malignant catarrhal fever (MCF), a fatal, systemic disease of Artiodactyls, was suspected on the basis of neurological signs and gross lesions observed in a banteng, the first animal to die of this infection. An MCF type-specific, one-step PCR with subsequent sequencing of the PCR amplicon confirmed the etiological agent as ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2). Biological samples were collected from all the dead suspect animals for gross, histological, bacteriological, virological and serological examinations. An epidemiological investigation was conducted to identify the source of the outbreak, as further deaths due to OvHV-2 still occurred after the removal of the recognized reservoirs, domestic sheep and goats. For this purpose, the samples from other live MCF susceptible species and reservoir hosts were collected for virological and serological analysis. In conjunction, a retrospective seroinvestigation was conducted on available sera collected between 1999 and 2010. In total, 11 animals belonging to four different species (banteng, Himalayan thar, Nile lechwe, and sika deer) died between July 2011 and October 2012, most presenting an acute form of MCF. The severe gross and histological lesions were consistent with the diseae, mainly consisting of haemorrhages and congestion of several organs as well as lymphoid cell infiltrates and vasculitis of different extent. The virological tests confirmed that all the animals had died of sheep-associated MCF. The investigation concluded that the OvHV-2 infection could have been due to the arrival of sheep in the petting zoo, with cases commencing after first lambing and subsequent shedding of virus. This was also supported by the serological retrospective study that indicated a limited previous MCF virus circulation. Further MCF cases, occurring even after the removal of the domestic sheep and goats, were attributed to the muflon. This episode confirms the importance of biosecurity measures in zoos which house MCF susceptible species, especially these endangered of extinction.