Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Two different Macaviruses, ovine herpesvirus-2 and caprine herpesvirus-2, behave differently in water buffaloes than in cattle or in their respective reservoir species.

Abstract

The ongoing global spread of "exotic" farm animals, such as water buffaloes, which carry their native sets of viruses, may bear unknown risks for the animals, into whose ecological niches the former are introduced and vice versa. Here, we report on the occurrence of malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) on Swiss farms, where "exotic" water buffaloes were kept together with "native" animals, i.e. cattle, sheep, and goats. In the first farm with 56 water buffaloes, eight cases of MCF due to ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) were noted, whereas additional ten water buffaloes were subclinically infected with either OvHV-2 or caprine herpesvirus-2 (CpHV-2). On the second farm, 13 water buffaloes were infected with CpHV-2 and two of those succumbed to MCF. In neither farm, any of the two viruses were detected in cattle, but the Macaviruses were present at high prevalence among their original host species, sheep and goats, respectively. On the third farm, sheep were kept well separated from water buffaloes and OvHV-2 was not transmitted to the buffaloes, despite of high prevalence of the virus among the sheep. Macavirus DNA was frequently detected in the nasal secretions of virus-positive animals and in one instance OvHV-2 was transmitted vertically to an unborn water buffalo calf. Thus, water buffaloes seem to be more susceptible than cattle to infection with either Macavirus; however, MCF did not develop as frequently. Therefore, water buffaloes seem to represent an interesting intermediate-type host for Macaviruses. Consequently, water buffaloes in their native, tropic environments may be vulnerable and endangered to viruses that originate from seemingly healthy, imported sheep and goats.