Seroprevalence of Malignant Catarrhal Fever in Captive Wildebeest (Connochaetes spp.) in France
2018 Joint EAZWV/AAZV/Leibniz-IZW Conference
Katia Ortiz1,2, DMV, MS; Justine Javaux3, BSc; Barbara Blanc4, DMV; Alice Brunet1, DMV; Marie Simon5, DMV; Thierry Petit6, DMV; Sylvie Clavel7, DMV; Benjamin Lamglait8,9, DMV, MSc, DECZM (ZHM); Françoise Myster3, PhD, DMV; Hong Li10,11, PhD, DMV; Benjamin Dewals3, PhD, DMV
1Réserve zoologique de la Haute Touche, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Obterre, France; 2Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB-UMR-CNRS, MNHM, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, Paris, France; 3Immunology-Vaccinology, Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine-FARAH, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium; 4FauneVet, Nantes, France; 5Zoo de Thoiry, Thoiry, France; 6Zoo de La Palmyre, Les Mathes, France; 7Zoo African Safari, Plaisance du Touch, France; 8Réserve Africaine de Sigean, Sigean, France; 9Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada; 10Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA; 11Animal Disease Research Unit, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA


Alcelaphine herpesvirus 1 (AlHV-1) is a gammaherpesvirus carried asymptomatically by wildebeest (Connochaetes spp.) in sub-Saharan Africa.5,6 Although asymptomatic in wildebeest, A1HV-1 infection in a number of other ruminant species causes a severe and lethal lymphoproliferative disease named wildebeest-derived malignant catarrhal fever (WD- MCF).1,2,4 Several endangered species of captive ruminants are highly susceptible to developing WD-MCF if infected by AlHV-1, which is of critical concern in zoological parks. Although no vaccine is currently available against WD-MCF, physical separation of species has shown to be successful since no wildebeest-derived WD-MCF cases have lately been reported in France. Here we investigated the seroprevalence of AlHV-1 in 55 captive wildebeests (Connochaetes taurinus and Connochaetes gnou) from 5 different zoos in France.3 We found 26/55 (47%) positive animals, demonstrating that AlHV-1 infection is present in captive wildebeest. Interestingly, the repartition of positive cases was not homogenous between zoos with 100% of seropositive animals in two parks. These results further highlight the importance of considering MCF as a threat for susceptible species and encourage for testing AlHV-1 prevalence in wildebeest by serology and potentially PCR.


The authors would like to thank the team of each participating institution.

Literature Cited

1.  Dewals B, Boudry C, Farnir F, Drion PV, Vanderplasschen A. Malignant catarrhal fever induced by alcelaphine herpesvirus 1 is associated with proliferation of CD8+ T cells supporting a latent infection. PLoS One. 2008;3:e1627.

2.  Dewals B, Vanderplasschen A. Malignant catarrhal fever induced by Alcelaphine herpesvirus 1 is characterized by an expansion of activated CD3+CD8+CD4- T cells expressing a cytotoxic phenotype in both lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues. Vet Res. 2011;42:95.

3.  Li H, Shen D, Knowles D, Gorham J, Crawford A. Competitive inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for antibody in sheep and other ruminants to a conserved epitope of malignant catarrhal fever virus. J Clin Microbiol. 1994;32:1674–1679.

4.  Palmeira L, Sorel O, Van Campe W, Boudry C, Roels S, Myster F, Reschner A, Coulie P, Kerkhofs P, Vanderplasschen A, Van Vuuren A, Dewals B. An essential role for gamma-herpesvirus latency-associated nuclear antigen homolog in an acute lymphoproliferative disease of cattle. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2013;110:1933–1942.

5.  Plowright W. Malignant catarrhal fever virus. In: Morein B, Dinter Z., (eds.). Virus Infections of Ruminants, Amsterdam. Elsevier; 1990. pp.123–150.

6.  Pretorius J, Oosthuizen M, Van Vuuren M. Gammaherpesvirus carrier status of black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) in South Africa. J S Afr Vet Assoc. 2008;79:136–141.


Speaker Information
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Katia Ortiz, DMV, MS
Réserve zoologique de la Haute Touche
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Obterre, France

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