Alpha and gamma herpesvirus detection in two herds of farmed red deer (Cervus elaphus) in New Zealand

Squires, R.A., Wilson, P.R., Whelan, N.C., Johnstone, A.C., Ayanegui- Alcérreca, M.A., Castillo-Alcala, F., and Knight, D. (2012) Alpha and gamma herpesvirus detection in two herds of farmed red deer (Cervus elaphus) in New Zealand. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 60 (1). pp. 69-75.

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CASE HISTORY: In September 2004 two hinds on Farm 1 were observed with epiphora and keratoconjunctivitis, and corneal scarring. A low pregnancy rate in some hinds had been recorded that year. In the same year six yearling deer were observed on Farm 2 with keratitis, uveitis and corneal scarring.

CLINICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL FINDINGS: On Farm 1, conjunctival swabs and blood samples were collected from the hinds with ocular lesions, and from 24 other hinds. The two affected hinds were immunosuppressed with dexamethasone for 7 days. Conjunctival, nasal and vaginal swabs were collected daily before euthanasia and necropsy on the eighth day. Subsequently, another five non-pregnant hinds were similarly immunosuppressed and necropsied, and the reproductive tracts of 20 non-pregnant hinds were collected following slaughter. Semen samples were collected from four stags implicated with reproductive failure. On Farm 2, conjunctival swabs were collected from six hinds with ocular lesions and from 14 unaffected deer.

Viral culture, consensus primer PCR and sequencing for specific herpesviruses was carried out on conjunctival swabs, buffy coat from blood samples, semen and reproductive tracts. Necropsy samples were also examined using gross pathology and histopathology.

On Farm 1, a type 2 rhadinovirus (CvRhV) was detected in the conjunctiva of one hind with keratoconjunctivitis using PCR. Following immunosuppression, gross vesicular and histological vaginal lesions typical of infection with alphaherpesvirus were observed in samples of vaginal tissue from the same hind. Buffy coat, vaginal and lumbar spinal nervous tissues were also positive for cervid herpesvirus 1 (CvHV-1) using PCR. Herpesviruses were not detected in reproductive tracts, ocular or semen samples of the other deer. CvRhV was detected in buffy coats from four other hinds and in a conjunctival swab from one hind, all without ocular lesions, using PCR.

On Farm 2, conjunctival swabs from two deer with keratitis were culture positive for CvHV-1. Two culture-negative conjunctival samples from deer without ocular lesions were positive for CvHV-1 by PCR. In two other affected animals, presence of CvRhV was confirmed by PCR and sequencing.

DIAGNOSIS: Infection with CvHV-1 associated with keratitis and vulvovaginitis, and CvRhV infection in deer with and without ocular lesions.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: CvHV-1 is a likely cause of keratoconjunctivitis and possibly reproductive tract pathology in deer. Investigation of ocular lesions and reproductive failure in farmed deer should include CvRhV and CvHV-1.

Item ID: 18302
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1176-0710
Keywords: red deer, Cervus elaphus, cornea, conjunctiva, keratitis, conjunctivitis, keratoconjunctivitis, virus, Cervid herpesvirus-1, rhadinovirus, semen, vagina, infertility
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2011 00:30
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0707 Veterinary Sciences > 070706 Veterinary Medicine @ 100%
SEO Codes: 86 MANUFACTURING > 8609 Veterinary Pharmaceutical Products > 860902 Veterinary Diagnostics @ 100%
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