Malignant Catarrhal Fever Virus (Alcelaphine Herpesvirus Type 1)

Authored by: George C. Russell

Manual of Security Sensitive Microbes and Toxins

Print publication date:  April  2014
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9781466553965
eBook ISBN: 9781466553989
Adobe ISBN:


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Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is a fatal generalized disease of ungulates that is characterized by systemic infiltration and proliferation of lymphocytes in many tissues, with extensive cytotoxic activity that appears to have some autoimmune characteristics. 1 MCF is caused by γ-herpesviruses of the genus Macavirus that share features of sequence and antigenicity. These viruses infect their natural hosts efficiently and without apparent disease, while contact with susceptible (usually ungulate) host species can lead to fatal MCF. Currently, four viruses have been associated with MCF in susceptible species, while other MCF viruses have been identified by a shared serological determinant and PCR-based sequence analysis. 2 Thus, alcelaphine herpesvirus 1 (AlHV-1) naturally infects wildebeest and is a cause of MCF in cattle in East and South Africa; ovine herpesvirus 2 (OvHV-2) infects domestic sheep and causes MCF in in-contact cattle and deer worldwide; and caprine herpesvirus 2 (CpHV-2) naturally infects goats and is associated with MCF cases in deer. The fourth virus shown to be associated with the disease has been termed “MCF virus of white-tailed deer” (MCFV-WTD) to reflect the susceptible host, while its natural host has yet to be identified. 3 In recent years, MCF has also been reported in pigs, initially in Scandinavia but more recently in a range of European countries. The clinical signs found in pigs were very similar to those seen in acutely affected cattle.

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