Malignant Catarrhal Fever
Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF) is a fatal disease of cattle, deer, bison and other livestock. In the UK, MCF is mostly caused by Ovine Herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2), which is carried by most sheep without disease. Alcelaphine herpesvirus-1 (AlHV-1) is a similar MCF virus that is carried asymptomatically by wildebeest. In both cases cattle are infected sporadically but infected animals almost always die because there is no licensed treatment or vaccine for this disease.
MCF causes problems for UK cattle production but is a more serious issue for the deer and bison industry worldwide and for pastoralists who depend on cattle for their livelihoods. For example, the Massai move their cattle away from wildebeest calving areas each year to avoid MCF, despite these areas having the best grazing.
At Moredun we are working in three areas that will have direct effects for stakeholders; improving MCF diagnosis; developing a vaccination strategy; and understanding the pathology of MCF. Tests developed at Moredun to detect viral DNA are now in routine use for MCF diagnosis. An MCF vaccine developed at Moredun has recently been shown to protect cattle from a fatal MCF virus challenge. This vaccine will be tested soon in an international collaborative project.
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