Malignant catarrhal fever in cattle in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil: Experimental transmission to cattle and characterization of the etiological agent. Academic Article uri icon


  • Two oubreaks of malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) occurring in cattle on two farms (A and B) in the municipality of Santiago, state of Rio Grande do Sul (RS), Brazil, and the transmission of the disease to susceptible calves as well as the detection of ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) in tissues of affected cattle are reported. The two epizootics occurred from November 2001 to February 2002 (Farm A) and in January-February 2003 (Farm B). Numbers of cattle at risk, morbidity and letality rates were respectively 170, 10.59% and 83.33% for Farm A and 500, 2.4% and 100% for Farm B. Contact between affected cattle and sheep was detected in both farms, but lambing ewes were present only in farm A. Duration of clinical courses, gross findings and histopathology were the same for the affected cattle in both farms. Most affected cattle died or were euthanatized in extremis after a clinical course of 2-8 days. Clinical signs included fever (40.5 and 41.5°C), nasal and ocular discharge, corneal opacity, conjunctivitis, drooling, erosions and ulcerations of the mucosae, diarrhea, hematuria, and neurological disturbances. Eleven necropsies (9 on Farm A, 2 on Farm B) were performed. Gross lesions included erosions and ulcers affecting the mucosae of nasal turbinates, oral cavity, gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts; hemorrhage and necrosis of the tip of the buccal papillae, lymph node enlargement, multifocal white foci in renal cortex, and hyperemia of leptomeninges. Microscopically, there were arteritis and fibrinoid degeneration in medium and small arteries and arterioles of multiple organs and tissues, necrosis and inflammation in several mucosal surfaces, keratitis, conjunctivitis, uveitis, intersticial nephritis, and encephalitis. Transmission experiments were attempted in five calves (E1-E5) by inocculating each of them intravenously with 500 ml of whole heparinized blood from a MCF affected cow. The transmission was suscessful in at least three (E1-E3) of the experimental calves which became sick after an incubation period of 15-27 days. Four experimental calves either died or were euthanatized in extremis after a clinical course which varied from 3 days to 8 weeks. The remaining experimental calf (E5) recovered from a mild disease and was euthanatized 14 weeks after inocculation. Necropsies were performed in all five calves. Clinical signs, necropsy and histopathological findings of three calves (E1-E3) were characteristic of MCF. OvHV-2 viral DNA was detected by the polimerase chain reaction (PCR) test in paraffin embedded tissues from seven cattle out of the 11 spontaneous MCF cases and from three experimental calves (E1-E3). PCR tests resulted negative in the remaining four of the 11 spontaneous MCF cases tested and in two (E4.E5) of the five experimental calves. Immunohistochemistry performed in sections of lymphoid tissue from calf E4 failed to detect BVD virus antigen. The experimental transmission of MCF and the characterization of the etiological agent as OvHV-2 were successfully attempted in cattle for the first time in Brazil.

author list (cited authors)

  • Garmatz, S. L., Irigoyen, L. E., Rech, R. R., Brown, C. C., Zhang, J., & Barros, C.

citation count

  • 20

publication date

  • April 2004