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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Immunological Intervention of Malignant Catarrhal Fever Virus-Induced Disease in Ruminants

Location: Animal Diseases Research

Title: Gammaherpesvirus infection in semidomesticated reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus): a cross-sectional serological study in northern Norway

Authors
item Des Neves, C -
item Ihlebaek, H -
item Skjerve, E -
item Hemmingsen, W -
item Li, Hong
item Tryland, M -

Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 7, 2012
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Citation: Des Neves, C.G., Ihlebaek, H.M., Skjerve, E., Hemmingsen, W., Li, H., Tryland, M. 2013. Gammaherpesvirus infection in semidomesticated reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus): a cross-sectional serological study in northern Norway. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. doi: 10.7589/WD.2012-07-185.

Interpretive Summary: The study was designed to carry out a large scale survey to determine the prevalence of antibodies against gammaherpesvirus in apparently healthy semi-domesticated reindeer in a northern region of Norway, and to evaluate if the risk of being exposed to the virus was influenced by factors such as geographical location, age, gender, carcass-weight and animal density. Using the cELISA specific for malignant catarrhal fever group viruses as a serological test on a total of 3339 samples, overall seroprevalence was 3.5%, but varied between the different reindeer herding districts in the region (0% - 6.7%). The risk of exposure to gammaherpesvirus (i.e. becoming seropositive) was significantly higher for adult reindeer versus calves, for reindeer in east versus west, and with increasing animal density. Although no evidence of disease associated with this virus has been detected in reindeer sampled for this study yet, a low seroprevalence could indicate either an occasional infection of reindeer with another ruminant gammaherpesvirus or the presence of a yet unknown specific low pathogenic reindeer gammaherpesvirus. Further studies should aim at characterizing the virus circulating in reindeer and address the potential clinical impact associated with this virus.

Technical Abstract: Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is a disease caused by a group of gammaherpesviruses that primarily affect domestic and wild ruminants. A serological study using cELISA was performed on a total of 3339 apparently healthy semi-domesticated reindeer (R. t. tarandus) from Finnmark County, Norway, sampled during slaughter. The overall seroprevalence was 3.5%, and varied between the different reindeer herding districts in Finnmark (0% - 6.7%), the largest reindeer herding region in the country. The risk of exposure to gammaherpesvirus (i.e. becoming seropositive) was significantly higher for adult reindeer versus calves £ 1 year (odds ratio: 2.033, P < 0.001), for reindeer in east Finnmark (3.8%) versus west Finnmark (3.3%) (odds ratio: 2.246, P < 0.001), and with increasing animal density. No evidence of disease associated with this virus has been detected in reindeer sampled for this study, but since samples were collected at slaughterhouses one cannot discard these events from happening. The present study showing a low seroprevalence could indicate either an occasional infection of reindeer with another ruminant gammaherpesvirus or the presence of a yet unknown specific low pathogenic reindeer gammaherpesviurs. Further studies should aim at characterizing the virus circulating in reindeer and address the potential clinical impact associated to this virus.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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