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Identification and characterisation of Gamma-herpesviruses in zoo artiodactyla

Published: 2024


  • Laura Bianchessi

  • Edmund Flach

  • Giulia Monacchia

  • Mark Dagleish

  • Madeleine Maley

  • Lauretta Turin

  • Mara Silvia Rocchi

Is Part of:

Virology Journal, 21, 49


Viruses within the γ-herpesviruses subfamily include the causative agents of Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF) in several species of the order Artiodactyla. MCF is a usually fatal lymphoproliferative disease affecting non-adapted host species. In adapted host species these viruses become latent and recrudesce and transmit during times of stress or immunosuppression. The undetected presence of MCF-causing viruses (MCFVs) is a risk to non-adapted hosts, especially within non-sympatric zoological collections. This study investigated the presence of MCFVs in six different zoological collections in the UK, to evaluate the presence of subclinical/latent MCFVs in carrier animals.

One-hundred and thirty eight samples belonging to 54 different species of Artiodactyla were tested by Consensus Pan-herpes PCR. The positive samples were sequenced and subjected to phylogenetic analyses to understand their own evolutionary relationships and those with their hosts.

Twenty-five samples from 18 different species tested positive. All viruses but one clustered in the γ-herpesvirus family and within the Macavirus as well as the non-Macavirus groups (caprinae and alcelaphinae/hippotraginae clusters, respectively). A strong association between virus and host species was evident in the Macavirus group and clustering within the caprinae group indicated potential pathogenicity.

This study shows the presence of pathogenic and non-pathogenic MCFVs, as well as other γ-herpesviruses, in Artiodactyla species of conservation importance and allowed the identification of new herpesviruses in some non-adapted species.

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