Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) was diagnosed in two black duikers (Cephalophus niger), four red-flanked duikers (Cephalophus rufilatus), two yellow-backed duikers (Cephalophus silvicultor) and one Bongo antelope (Tragelaphus eurycerus) at the Los Angeles Zoo. The onset of clinical signs developed within 24–72 hours in all species. Clinical signs in duikers included, weakness, neurologic signs, hypoglycemia, azotemia, petechiae, and diarrhea. The bongo died six days, after onset of lethargy, anorexia, limb edema, and nasal discharge. No supportive treatment was successful in affected animals.
In duiker cases, tissues were polymerase chain reaction (PCR) negative for caprine, ovine and wildebeest MCF virus (MCFV) strains. A second duiker case several months later, tested by a MCFV multiplex PCR amplified the MCFV carried by ibex. The virus was further confirmed by sequence of a portion of the herpesviral DNA polymerase gene.
Identical sequences, which completely matched ibex-MCFV sequences previously reported at another institution, were obtained from all affected animals. In addition, all seven Nubian ibexes (Capra nubiana) at the Los Angeles Zoo tested positive for MCF viral antibodies by competitive inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Viral DNA sequences amplified from peripheral blood leukocytes were also identical to those found in the affected duikers and bongo, confirming the source of transmission. After the death of the Bongo, and the removal of the seven Nubian ibexes from the premises, no further MCF cases were observed.
The authors would like to thank the Los Angeles Zoo staff; Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology and Allen School for Global Animal Health at Washington State University; Animal Disease Research Unit, USDA-ARS; the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis and California Animal Health and Food Safety, San Bernardino Branch for their assistance in care and diagnostics efforts.
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