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Open Access Case report

A possible case of caprine-associated malignant catarrhal fever in a domestic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in Switzerland

Martina Dettwiler1*, Anina Stahel2, Sonka Krüger3, Christian Gerspach3, Ueli Braun3, Monika Engels2 and Monika Hilbe1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Veterinary Pathology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 268, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland

2 Institute of Veterinary Virology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 266a, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland

3 Department of Farm Animals, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:78  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-78

Published: 2 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is a fatal herpesvirus infection, affecting various wild and domestic ruminants all over the world. Water buffaloes were reported to be particularly susceptible for the ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) causing the sheep-associated form of MCF (SA-MCF). This report describes the first case of possibly caprine-associated malignant catarrhal fever symptoms in a domestic water buffalo in Switzerland.

Case presentation

The buffalo cow presented with persistent fever, dyspnoea, nasal bleeding and haematuria. Despite symptomatic therapy, the buffalo died and was submitted to post mortem examination. Major findings were an abomasal ulceration, a mild haemorrhagic cystitis and multifocal haemorrhages on the epicardium and on serosal and mucosal surfaces. Eyes and oral cavity were not affected. Histopathology revealed a mild to moderate lymphohistiocytic vasculitis limited to the brain and the urinary bladder. Although these findings are typical for MCF, OvHV-2 DNA was not detected in peripheral blood lymphocytes or in paraffin-embedded brain, using an OvHV-2 specific real time PCR. With the aid of a panherpesvirus PCR, a caprine herpesvirus-2 (CpHV-2) sequence could be amplified from both samples.

Conclusions

To our knowledge, this is the first report of malignant catarrhal fever in the subfamily Bovinae, where the presence of CpHV-2 could be demonstrated. The etiological context has yet to be evaluated.