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Active and Latent Ovine Herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) Infection in a Herd of Captive White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

M.V. Palmer, T.C. Thacker, R.J. Madison, L.G. Koster, S.L. Swenson, H. Li
Journal of comparative pathology 2013 v.149 no.2-3 pp. 162-166
disease reservoirs, seroprevalence, Odocoileus virginianus, Ovine gammaherpesvirus 2, antibodies, DNA, cattle, herds, hosts, mononuclear leukocytes, polymerase chain reaction, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, sheep, spleen, malignant catarrhal fever, deer, signs and symptoms (animals and humans)
Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is the clinical manifestation of infection of certain ruminant species with one of a group of pathogenic gammaherpesviruses known as MCF viruses. Cattle and numerous exotic ruminant species are susceptible to clinical disease that may be sporadic or occasionally epidemic in nature. The most common MCF virus worldwide is ovine herpesvirus (OvHV)-2. Reservoir hosts such as sheep, carry and excrete OvHV-2, but do not develop clinical signs, while clinically susceptible species develop severe and often fatal disease. The existence of latent infection in clinically susceptible hosts is poorly understood, but is documented in some ruminant species. Twenty-six animals from a captive herd of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) died and were examined from October 2006 to December 2010.Fifteen of these animals (58%) showed clinical signs and gross and microscopical lesions consistent with MCF, while 11 (42%) did not. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification yielded product consistent with OvHV-2 DNA in samples of spleen from all 26 deer. To examine the possibility of latent infection in this herd, peripheral blood mononuclear cells were examined by PCR for OvHV-2 DNA, and the test was positive in 23/32 (72%) clinically normal deer. Archived serum samples were used to examine the history of MCF exposure in the herd using a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, which demonstrated that 10/40 (25%) deer tested had MCF viral antibodies, with nine deer being seropositive over multiple years. Combined with previous observations in deer and other species, these results suggest the existence of latent infection of white-tailed deer with OvHV-2.