Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Animal Disease Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #66814


item Li, Hong
item Shen, David
item Jessup, David
item Knowles, Donald - Don
item Gorham, John
item Thorne, Tom
item O'toole, Donal
item Crawford, Timothy

Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/7/1995
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is a often fatal disease of cattle and wild ruminants, including some endangered species. The disease is caused by a group of herpesviruses that exist in nature as inapparent infection in certain species such as sheep. In order to better understand the epidemiology of the disease and to control the disease, we used a more reliable serological assay (competitive-inhibition ELISA) recently developed in our laboratory to determine the natural infection rate in wild and domestic ruminants in the US. A total 2528 serum samples were collected from 14 species in 11 states and were examined by the assay. Our test results showed that a high percentage of domestic sheep, domestic goats, mouflon sheep, muskox and some populations of bighorn are infected with the virus and the antibody prevalence was age-related. The data also indicated that a low antibody prevalence was found in the species such as domestic cattle, deer, elk and bison, confirming the concept that significant numbers of non-lethal infections occur among clinically susceptible ruminants. The present study indicates that the virus of MCF is more prevalent among captive and wild ruminants in North America than previously recognized, and suggests the need for more research in this area and the necessity of care in management to avoid mixing species susceptible to clinical MCF with carrier species.

Technical Abstract: Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is a poorly characterized disease of certain ruminants that is associated with infection by a group of gammaherpesviruses that exist in nature as inapparent infections in other species of ruminants. A competitive inhibition ELISA, based on a monoclonal antibody to an epitope conserved among MCF virus (MCFV) strains of both wildebeest and sheep origin, was used to determine the prevalence of antibody to MCFV in selected domestic and wild ruminants, both free- ranging and captive. A total of 2528 sera from 14 species was examined. These included pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) (n=80), bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) (n=339), bison (Bison bison) (n=103), black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus var columbianus) (n=17), domestic cattle (Bos taurus) (n=395), domestic goats (Capra hircus) (n=291), domestic sheep (Ovis ammon (aries)) (n=680), elk (Cervus elaphus) (n=323), llama (Lama glama) (n=41), mouflon sheep (Ovis musimon) (n=21), mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) (n=54), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) (n=101), muskox (Ovibos moschatus) (n=20) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) (n=63). A high seroprevalence (37 to 62%) was demonstrated in domestic sheep, domestic goats, muskox, and some bighorn sheep populations. Seroprevalence was generally age-related. A low seroprevalence (2 to 13%) was found in the species such as domestic cattle, deer, elk and bison, confirming the concept that significant numbers of non-lethal infections occur among these clinically susceptible ruminants.